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Copyright 1923 






Doctor A. H. Waterman 

Table of Contents 

The First Gentleman of the Theater 1 

Arnold Daly’s Darling Daughter 9 

A Duel or Two for Mr. Ditrichstein 15 

Angel Cake with Miss Ferguson 23 

Heart Interest and Mr. A. H. Woods 29 

Why God Loves the Irish 37 

A Rube Aphrodite 43 

The Gravest Fault of Sir Herbert Tree 49 

The Double Life of Ina Claire 55 

Jack and John Barrymore 61 

The Duncan Sisters and Royalty 69 

Mr. Craven’s Lighted First Night 75 

Miss and Mrs. Janis 81 

Mr. Collier Under Oath 87 

Miss Barrymore and the Wits 97 

The Twenty-second Street Ziegfeld 101 

The Second Wind of Mrs. Leslie Carter. . . . 107 

Consistently Savoy and Brennan 113 

That Adorable Laurette Taylor 119 

Louis Wolheim, Ph.D 125 

Miss O’Ramey Concentrates 131 

Why Managers Don’t Love Mr. Bennett. . . . 137 

When Sophie Tucker Kissed a Critic 141 


Goodwin and Daly — Mostly Daly 147 

Miss Moores and Her Mamma 153 

Mr. Warfield Declines a Million 159 

The Girl from Colosimo’s 165 

Mr. Arliss Speaks of Mr. Archer 173 

My Favorite Leading Lady 181 

Mr. Jolson Acts Up for His Bride 185 

Melting the Ice with Lynn Fontanne 193 

“Hitchy.” 201 

Twenty-Thousand-Dollar Legs 209 

Sothern and Marlowe. 215 

Fanny and I and the Baby 221 

Bert William’s Last Interview 227 

When Justine Johnson Was Natural 233 

Imperial Morris Gest 243 

Alone at Last with Helen Hayes 249 

Nora Bayes on Lovers 255 

Lynn Overman’s Long Rehearsal 263 

The Self-Doubting Pauline Lord 271 

Brownie and Bunny of “The Follies.” .... 277 

Breakfast with a Perfect Lady 285 

Making It Up with the Bordoni 289 

Luck and Frank Bacon 295 

An Unprintable Interview -with Miss Cowl. . . . 303 

Ambushing the First Actress 309 

Index 319 


I have written five hundred in- 
terviews with players and been surprised 
in four hundred of them. I ought to be 
able to, but I can't — to save me I can’t — 
tell you why certain people tell me certain 
things. I can only tell you how they tell 
these things; which is perhaps all that is 
required of me. But there are times when 
I should like to be less of a reporter and 
more of a psychologue. . . 

The First Gentleman 
of the Theater 

MET John Drew on West Madison 
street the other day, when he was 
searching the signs for a moving pic- 
ture containing his nephew, Lionel 
Barrymure, and, strangely enough, 
called “The Face in the Fog.” It was 
on Madison street between Clark and Dearborn, and 
I was thinking how few beautiful women you see in 
that crowded section of Chicago, and what unpressed- 
looking men (I’d just had my gloves cleaned and was 
feeling rather superior) — when, lo! my bored retina 
was rejoiced by the reflection of a gentleman whose 
trousers did not spring at the knee and whose coat 
might have been tailored especially for himself. I 
recognized John Drew’s impressive wear before I rec- 
ognized John Drew. 

I hooked arms, not unproudly, with my distin- 
guished friend and joined him in the search; but 
neither his thick lenses nor my medium ones could find 
a sign of the sign of Lionel, so we started to walk to 
a little arts-and-letters club in Michigan avenue, of 
which we are both members. But before we had 
reached its modest portal I was stricken with an idea, 
and I communicated it. 

“John,” I said, “I know your aversion to news- 
paperiety, and I respect you for it — but think of me! 
Why can’t I once in an age sit down and talk out an 



interview with an actor I really know and really 
admire and ” 

“Don’t go too far!” said Mr. Drew. But he lis- 
tened to reason. 

I flagged a cab — John Drew does not walk so 
briskly as he did twenty-five or fifty years ago — and 
as we climbed into it he said: 

“What’s the matter? Aren’t you well? You’ve 
spoiled about a mile of my walk.” 

And when I stopped in the drug store under 
his hotel and ordered a kola, he testily observed, “I 
should hope I’d be able to do a little better than that 
for you upstairs!” He was charged with dry humor 
as well as the damper hospitalities. 

I remember, I would not take the big stuffed chair, 
preferring to lounge at length on his padded window 
seat. And when finally he reluctantly did take it, it 
was to caricature the whole blooming institution of the 
actorial interview by saying, and saying as only John 
Drew can: 

“ ‘Yes,’ replied the famous actor, as he reclined 
in the easiest chair in his magnificent Blackstone 
apartment and spoke substantially as follows :” ! 

He tried to find a letter for me — it doesn’t matter, 
in fact I’ve forgotten, what the letter was about — 
but it was good to hear him “dash the souls” of all 
tidying chambermaids. And when somebody’s name 
came up — again I forget, but it was the name of some- 
body between fifty and one hundred years of age — 
Mr. Drew said that this party was “older than God.” 
Only, of course, he didn’t say “party”; that would be 
blasphemous language for John Drew. 

And this prompted me to ask him how old an 

The First Gentleman of the Theater 3 

actor must be before he begins to brag instead of lie 
about his age. 

Mr. Drew didn’t seem to know just how old; his 
gesture made it incalculable. “But it’s all damn rot, 
this trying to conceal your age,” he barked, who would 
be seventy on his next birthday. “They’ve got you in 
‘Who’s Who’ and the newspaper almanacs — and they’ve 
always got you right. I mean the almanacs, not the 
newspapers themselves. There was a paragraph in a 
New* York paper the other day that said — it ought to 
be here on the desk, but those women have tidied it 
out of sight, dash their sweet souls!” 

“Never mind looking, John. What did it say — 
substantially ?” 

“Said that next March I’d celebrate my fifty-ninth 
year on the stage. Hell, fiftieth is enough!” 

“I should say! And today you don’t — honest to 
heaven, John — look more than that many years old. 
I’m almost tempted to ask you how you’ve done it.” 
“That’s what an old fellow was asking me the 
other night. ‘I know you’re two weeks older than God,’ 
he said, ‘because you keep looking younger. How do 
you do it?’ 

“I told him. I told him that I never sat up late,” 
smiled the habitually nocturnal Mr. Drew, stirring the 
brown stimulant from the bottom of his glass, “and 
never drank anything.” 

And we fell to talking about acting, and I asked 
him who is ever the most modern of the comedians 
of manners if, during the long years of achievement, 
there had been any conscious and calculated change in 
his method of attacking a so-called modern part. “You 
are, and always have been,” I said, “contemporary.” 
“I haven’t realized any change of method,” he 



answered. “I suppose one progresses or else is called 
an old-timer. The actor who can’t keep pace with 
events and permutations becomes an old-timer, poor 
devil !” 

“And I wish you’d tell me,” I said, “what’s the 
matter with so many of the young-timers of our stage. 
Why haven’t we some young John Drews coming up?” 
“Come! Come!” he scoffed the question. 

“I mean this. We can get a lot of young women 
to play ladies without making a profound character 
study of the job. Why can’t we get more of the same 
kind of young men for the stage?” 

“Well,” said John Drew, measuredly, “you see, a 
lot of young men who might make good actors prefer 
to go down to the Equitable Life and clean out ink 
wells. They know they’ll only have to do that for a 
year, and then, possibly, with a rich father, be on the 
way to make a fortune. And fortunes aren’t made 
on the stage,” added one of our best bestowed histrions, 
looking up through his heavy glasses to encounter the 
entering presence of a recently dashed chambermaid. 
“Is that you, Margaret?” he asked with kindness. 
“No, sir; it’s Grace.” And Mr. Drew gave some 
friendly order to Grace, who was ample, who was 
middle-aged, who was as respectable looking as the 
First National Bank. 

“You’ll suspect nothing between me and Grace, I 
hope,” said Mr. Drew when she departed. “And I hope 
I shan’t drink myself into indiscreet utterances.” 

“I’ll protect you. And you didn’t,” I admitted, 
“chuck her under the chin.” 

“Eighteenth century!” said Mr. Drew, and won- 
dered if anybody ever did chuck anybody under the 

The First Gentleman of the Theater 5 

chin — save on the stage — and if any woman ever was 
the “toast of the town” — save in a play. 

“John, how far back do you remember the stage?” 
“Oh, I remember as a boy going to see Charlotte 
Cushman play Meg Merrilies,” he said, as casually as 
you’d say you remembered Bernhardt as Camille. 

But, casually as he said it, I couldn’t help thinking 
that Cushman was born in 1816, and that somehow 
this not-at-all-aged gentleman had contacts with a cen- 
tury ago. For a minute I felt that I must not call him 
John, no matter how affectionately meant; it didn’t 
sound quite respectful. But only for a minute. 

Then one of the hotel valets came in and hung up 
a suit of tweeds, and my host observed that he must 
be a very disorderly person to require so much pressing. 
Speaking of which, he remarked a line in “The Circle” 
which struck him as being peculiar — the line where 
Mr. Lawford’s character observes of Mr. Drew’s that, 
“He wore his clothes better than any man in London.” 
“Curious thing,” he said, “for one Englishman of 
that class to say about another. They rather take that 
sort of thing as a matter of course.” 

“It is rather American,” said I, and reminded 
John Drew of the days when what he wore was almost 
as important a matter of news as what he acted. And 
I thought that what he wore now was no bad tribute 
to the fading art of dandyism, as I noted the subtle 
harmonies of his brown homespun, pink-striped collar, 
wine-colored handkerchief (in the pocket, not the cuff!) 
and olive tie with its counterpoints of pink. But I 
kept my thoughts, and, as I say, recalled the days when 
the product of his tailor rivaled the product of his 
playwright. To which John Drew said, laughing, that 



he remembered the time George Ade wrote of a man 
coming down the street in John Drew scenery. 

“Maugham’s a funny card,” he went on, speaking 
with admiration of his and Mrs. Leslie Carter’s present 
author. “He has an impediment in his speech; and 
he had a country place near mine during the war. 
One day he told me that his government had instructed 
him to go to Russia on some diplomatic business, some 
business that would require a lot of talking. And as 
he stammered this I thought: ‘You’ll be good — even 
in French — in Russia !’ Brilliant fellow, Maugham. I 
remember him once saying to me — I think it was when 
I was doing ‘Smith’ — ‘I expect you to soothe and com- 
fort my declining years by playing my pieces.’ ” 

“When is it you complete your fiftieth year on 
the stage — this month?” I inquired carelessly. 

“God, no!” exploded John Drew. “I’m not now 
completing, I’m only entering, my fiftieth year — I 
shan’t complete it till some time in March, 1923. It 
was in 1873 I went on the stage, being then,” he 
whimsically appended, “a moonish youth of nineteen.” 

“Have a cigar?” he was saying. 

“Is it a genuine John Drew?” 

“I’m afraid it’s only a Corona,” he said, and I 

“Did you ever smoke your namesake?” 

“I shouldn’t go that far! But I was once pre- 
sented with tw T o boxes, with my picture inside the lid, 
wearing a jig-saw mustache. I gave one to my servant, 
and he promptly gave me notice. And in Cleveland I 
was waited on, in the rotunda of the hotel, by a depu- 
tation of cigar makers, viio informed me that the 
brand bearing my name w r as not union made, and 

The First Gentleman of the Theater 7 

wanted to know what I was going to do about it. I 
referred them to my lawyers.” 

“You got no royalties for the name and the jig- 
saw mustache?” 

“No; not even a request for permission. I got 
nothing but fame out of the John Drew cigar.” And 
he didn’t seem an hour over fifty as he laughed it. 

“Give me,” I said, as he walked with me to the 
elevator, “give me a recipe for being fifty at sixty- 
nine !” 

“I’ll give you an infallible one : Keep the hair on 
and the stomach off.” 

“Fine! Good-by, John.” 

“God bless!” he chopped. 

Arnold Daly’s Darling Daughter 

E WENT to supper after she had 
finished her night’s work, which was 
acting at the Playhouse the thirteen- 
year-old little Cockney dear in “Happy- 
Go-Lucky” ; we went to supper just like 
a couple of grown-ups. But before I 
gave her an opportunity to decline my cigarets I asked 
one question. I asked, “How old are you, Miss Daly?” 
“I was nineteen on the fifth of December,” she 
said, “but you can make me eighteen if you want to — 
actresses are always made younger in their interviews, 
aren’t they ? But, of course, if anyone wanted to check 
up, the deception would be discovered. My mother is 
only thirty-seven — and divine; and as much of the 
world as cares to know knows that she married father 
when she was sixteen and that I was born in . . . 

whatever year it was . . . I’m trying my best to 

forget. ... Do you,” she leaned over the table and 
asked me above the racket of the world’s loudest 
organist, “know my divine mother?” 

“No, I’m sorry to say; but I do know all your 
sainted papas.” 

“All of them !” She laughed a little gurgling laugh 
that rippled her tomboyish features. “There’s only 
two. There’s Dad; he’s my step-father, Frank Craven. 
And there’s Father; he’s Arnold Daly, my parental 
progenitor. Mother and I always say we divorced 
Father in 1900 and married Dad in 1914.” 



A modern child, this little daughter of divorce; 
and when I said, “Are you hungry ?” the modern child 
replied, “I had dinner with friends, and that always 
makes me hungry.” So we gave the waiter quite a 

Blythe Daly has a vocabulary, speaking words that 
writers only write. She has her father’s English 
vocabulary and her mother’s French; she is uncannily 
bilingual. Her face and fair coloring are her father’s 
over again, even to the blinking twinkle of the gray- 
blue eyes; and like her father, she talks with all her 
vowels and all her countenance ; talks athletically, 
musically, beautifully. Sometimes she reminds you of 
Mrs. Patrick Campbell in a series of melodious explo- 
sions; but on the whole she has more legato; and 
breathes so well that you never know when ; breathes 
like a bird. 

She was presently trilling for me a letter she had 
recently written to Mr. Daly, who had reproached her 
for describing herself his “sincerely” : “ ‘Though I 

admire you immensely and glory in your name,’ I 
wrote to Father, ‘I couldn’t very well sign myself with 
the proverbial prodigal-child love and kisses for some- 
one I scarcely knew, simply because he happened to be 
the more or less unwilling, certainly unsuspecting, and 
up to now quite unconscious author of my being.’ ” 

“Repeat that!” I cried. 

She did, and I wrote it down, vowing that a man 
should take a stenographer to an interview with Blythe 
Daly, if not two. 

“Child, where did you learn to talk?” 

“I have a brilliant mother,” she brilliantly 
answered. “Mother lies in bed and reads Emerson’s 
lectures to me. Then I’ve been brought up in part by 

Arnold Daly’s Darling Daughter 11 

Uncle Jack, who is John Drew, and Aunt Bee, who is 
Uncle Jack’s daughter Louise and mother’s best friend. 
I’ve been,” she smiled, “surrounded by every influence 
but the paternal.” 

“Where do you Dalys get your round, ripe Irish 
articulation? It’s like Rose Coghlan’s.” 

“Well, my mother is half French, half Italian, and 
the other half Scotch and my father is all good Brook- 
lyn Irish.” 

“Have you got Father’s temperament?” 

“I hope not. The first story I ever heard of myself 
was of Aunt Bee coming in and finding me, at the 
age of five, in my tub, but with all the graces of the 
perfect hostess. ‘How’s your mother?’ says she. ‘Fine,’ 
says I. ‘And your father?’ ‘Still fighting with his 
managers,’ says I ... I hope I haven’t the Daly 
temperament; if ever I lose my temper people will 
say, ‘What else could you expect from Arnold Daly’s 
daughter!’ and if I ever do a clever piece of acting 
he’ll get the credit for that, too.” 

“Have another pastry?” 

“No, thanks; I must think of the waistline.” 

“How long have you been on the stage?” 

“Aha ! this is where Miss Daly talks of her career! 
The question sounds like a real interview and I am 
terrifically thrilled. This is my first, you know, and 
I’m dying of excitement. I’ve always been told that 
being interviewed is like going to confession, or hav- 
ing your fortune told, in that it gives you such an 
opportunity to talk about yourself — and Self is a sub- 
ject on which the Dalys are unparalleled. . . . But 

to answer your fascinating question — I’ve been on the 
stage two years. I’ve played in fourteen plays in 
twenty months. Some of my parts had one line, others 



were just noises off stage — it was anything to be on 
the stage. Better shift scenery in a real theater than 
go to a dramatic school.” 

“What good part besides this have you played?” 

“In ‘9:45’ I was the ruined maid for seventy-five 
dollars a week — jumped from twenty-five, and I adored 
it. I told myself, ‘The old girl’s coming quite along!’ 
Then I skipped from the ruined maid to this child of 
thirteen in ‘Happy-Go-Lucky.’ A long life but exciting.” 

“What does your father think of this performance 
of yours?” 

“My dear man, Father’s never seen me act. He 
should be bothered! Oh, yes, once when we were 
rehearsing this play in New York he came round, but 
I chased him away.” 

“How’d you like your father’s performance in ‘The 
Tavern’ ?” 

“I haven’t seen it; I haven’t even seen Lowell 
Sherman’s performance in ‘The Tavern.’ The last, in 
fact, the only time I ever saw Father act was when he 
made a revival in 1914 of ‘You Never Can Tell’ — which 
reminds me that I w r ound up my letter to him with one 
of Dolly’s lines from that comedy : ‘We mean well, Mr. 
Crampstones, but we’re not yet strong in the filial 
line.’ ” 

“How’d you like Father’s acting in 1914?” I 

“I — don’t — know.” She seemed puzzled; she 
laughed eerily. 

“What impression did you get?” 

“My strongest impression was that he made too 
many faces. Which sounds like a snippy child trying 
to get a laugh at her parent’s expense. And that isn’t 
the idea. The idea — if I can explain it — is that Father’s 
acting was so notoriously good, according to experts, 

Arnold Daly's Darling Daughter 13 

that I accepted it as something I’d always known. . . 

just as I accepted and was prepared for the acting of 
Mary Garden. But Father did seem to make a great 
many faces. I hope that isn’t what you mean when 
you say the Dalys talk with their faces, else I shall at 
once begin to curb my galloping features. . . . All 

words lead to oneself in an interview, don’t they? 
I remind myself of Father. He sent me the other 
day proof sheets of a review he is writing for The 
Bookman of Nathan’s latest volume of dramatic crit- 
icisms. Immediately I read them I telegraphed him: 
‘Found well written your review of Nathan’s book, 
only don’t you think a little more of the subject 
and a little less of you would be more to the point?’ 
. . . If I seem to scatter all over the place, you 

must make allowances for my excitement at my first 
interview . . . although once, when I was four, I 

was quoted in the press. Somebody said, ‘You’re a 
blonde, Blythe, aren’t you?’ To which I answered, ‘No, 
I’m a Catholic.’ ... So you’re an old friend of 
Father’s, Mr. Stevens. Well, I’m glad you’re not a 
lovely lady.” 

‘‘So’m I, Miss Daly; but why are you glad?” 

‘‘Oh, all my life I’ve met lovely ladies who’ve been 
dear old friends of Father’s. And they’ve always said, 
with ecstasy: ‘I knew your father! But you’re not 

like him. He’s wonderful!’ It’s a favorite phrase of 
mother’s and mine, ‘I knew your father.’ The lovely 
ladies who’ve been dear friends of Father’s are all 
alike — all but one — all but Mary Garden. I met her 
when she was rehearsing ‘Aphrodite’ here at the Audi- 
torium. She didn’t roll her eyes and sigh that she’d 
known my father. Mary Garden said: 

“‘You are Mr. Daly’s daughter? How is poppa?’ 

“And I loved her ‘How is poppa?’ I took her into 



my confidence and told her my earliest childhood’s 
recollection, which was of a gold toilet set on my 
father’s dresser and above it in a huge gold frame a 
portrait of Mary Garden as Thais. I told her how the 
children had been bragging at school, one saying, ‘My 
father gave me a French doll that walks,’ and another 
saying, ‘My father gave me an automobile that goes,’ 
and how I thought I capped them all when I cried, ‘My 
father knows Mary Garden and has her picture in a 
gold frame!’ How Mary Garden laughed and relished 
it! She is not like Father’s other lovely ladies . . . 
Is there anything I’ve left undiscussed?” 

“These Chinese preserved fruits ; and,” I reminded 
her, “they were your idea.” 

“I know, and I’m sorry, but I daren’t taste them,” 
the modern child replied. “I must think of the old 
waistline — it’s much harder to get it off than to keep 
it off. Look at my gifted sire’s waistline and think 
of my possibilities.” 

A Duel or Two for 
Mr. Ditrichstein 

— — — n AM sure that Leo Ditrichstein’s mind 

was far from the field of honor and 
singing bullets exchanged at dawn. 

His single wound is remembered by 
a tiny nick in the rim of the right ear — 

^ a slight souvenir of peppery days in 

the Old World that does not pretend to be a barometer, 
that does not painfully signal the approach of every 
April rainfall. 

It was not the weather that reminded him. 

And the American citizenship of this once hectic 
son of Hungary is an old matter now, a matter of 
twenty-five years. 

So neither was it the thought that but for a bit 
of lead landed in the anatomy of a German antagonist 
he would not be here, the Great Lover of the American 
stage, the eternal Don Juan of our sophisticated 

I have written five hundred interviews with play- 
ers and been surprised in four hundred of them. I 
ought to be able to, but I can’t — to save me I can’t — 
tell you why certain people tell me certain things. I 
can only tell you how they tell these things; which is 
perhaps all that is required of me. But there are times 
when I should like to be less of a reporter and more 
of a psychologue. . . . 



And, as I say, I’m quite sure that Mr. Ditrichstein 
had not the remotest notion of telling me how a Euro- 
pean duel made him into an American actor when he 
and his American wife and I walked from Cohan’s 
Grand to a cafe around the corner — where the beer is 
faultless (for him as likes beer), and the Danish sand- 
wiches fit for jolly old Ibsen himself, and the favorite 
table not too near the bandstand. 

I was telling them of the lady near whom I sat 
during the performance of “The King,” who had been 
telling another lady that Mr. Ditrichstein was just as 
wicked a rake off the stage as on. 

They smiled at this doubtless old story. And with- 
out any great effort on his part Mr. Ditrichstein con- 
trived to look like anybody but Don Juan when he 
removed his brown hat from a pate as hairless as the 
billiard ball of platitude. 

Behold him a quiet, unfrilled man of family, taking 
his beer in a quiet restaurant corner with quite his 
own wife. Nobody stared, or should have. He might 
have been a doctor of medicine or the editor of The 
Atlantic Monthly. 

Mrs. Leo is not only not a lady of the stage, but 
she does not look like a lady of the stage (as so many 
lay wives of active actors do). Her hair is white, her 
powder-puff put by these several years. She luxuriates 
in elegant middle age. She has the courage of her 
humor, and declares herself without stint in four 

Something had displeased Mrs. Leo this night. It 
may have been her husband. She forgot to say. 

I say “forgot,” because Mrs. Leo has no secrets. 
The Leo Ditrichsteins have the grand manner in that 
they say what they think with a frankness that is 
subtly flattering to the listener. 

A Duel or Two for Mr. Ditrichstein 


“We have no secrets, no debts, and our life is open 
to the world/' Mrs. Leo declared, after she had con- 
fessed to being in a mood of displeasure. 

“To be a good liar you’ve got to be smart, be 
clever — and smart, clever people bore me; they’re so 

And Mr. Leo, half of whose business is to write 
half the clever lines he utters from the stage, assented 
with a twinkle in his nearest fun-loving eye. He has 
small eyes that sometimes grin. 

“Leo isn’t a liar,” Mrs. Leo went on ; “he hates a 
liar as I do — but you can’t believe anything he says.” 

“I say!” he mildly protested. 

“If he says he’ll go out tomorrow, you can bank 
on his spending the whole day at home. If he solemnly 
promises me not to play the races, he’ll go out and lose 
five thousand dollars.” The wives of racing men, I 
murmured to myself, never reproach them with their 

What I said aloud was: “Artists are all born 

“Leo is a born dirty gambler,” said Mrs. Leo, 
delightfully. “He took me to Monte Carlo and promised 
to play just once — twenty francs ” 

“Tell that story and I’ll tell the part that’s on 
you!” he warned. 

“I’ll tell it myself,” she flared. “But not till I’ve 
told how you bet on the zero at roulette, and won 
thirty-six times your wager, and I dragged you out of 
the place by main strength. 

"But he wouldn’t be contented to stay away a 
winner. All day he pleaded to go back to the tables, 
and of course we finally went back that evening. He 
had on a soft hat with the brim well down around his 
bald head. My white hair was cheerfully exposed.” 



“But I had on a soft collar; that was what barred 
me,” spoke Mr. Leo, elfishly. “But the man said it 
was all right for my mother.” 

“Meaning me,” sniffed Mrs. Leo. “And Leo was 
wild because he couldn’t go inside and lose his winnings 
and more. He has a frightful temper. What was it, 
Leo, you threw when you got angry in your dressing- 
room tonight?” 

“My trousers,” was the simple answer. 

Can you see the Great Lover madly tossing his 
trousers? I could not — somehow — then. 

We talked of the three great lover parts he had 
already played — in the play of that title, in “The Con- 
cert,” and now the most Don Giovannian of them all 
in “The King” — and Mrs. Leo allowed that there is 
an actor who plays such roles with conviction. 

“She usually reads my letters to me while I’m 
making up,” said he. 

“Not the bad ones, Leo. — Never such a one as 
would churn him up and spoil his performance. Only 
the flattering ones,” said this most truly helpful of 
great men’s helpmates. 

“I read to him the notes of soft ladies who archly 
set down their telephone numbers and the hours at 
which their husbands are not at home.” 

Mr. Leo objected with his nose. 

“Oh, they are not all perfumed. Some of them 
would, I dare say, be quite interesting — if I didn’t get 
them first.” 

“Yes, once in a while one gets a rise from one’s 
wife,” smiled Mr. Leo. 

“Is it you, Mrs. Leo,” I asked, “who won’t let him 
wear his toupee out of the theater?” 

“Me! I want him to wear a toupee all the time, 

A Duel or Two for Mr. Ditrichstein 19 

but he won’t. What fun do you think it is for me to 
go around with a bald-headed man who’s always afraid 
of getting his head in a draft? 

Mr. Leo dryly recited the “wig speech” from Cal- 
deron’s “The Judge of Zalamea,” wherein it is set forth 
that a man who suddenly grows hair advertises for 
admiration none but his wig-maker. And Mrs. Leo 
came down with: 

“But Leo carries his physical honesty too far. He 
won’t even wear false teeth — not even on the stage. 
Where two of his teeth are missing shows every time 
he laughs.” 

Mr. Leo laughed to prove it. 

“I simply couldn’t wear artificial dentistry,” he 
solemnly declared. 

“Why, when I thought he was going to die,” Mrs. 
Leo testified, “the last time we were abroad, and the 
surgeon wanted to cut out his appendix, Leo says : ‘No. 
If I’m going to die, I’m going to die whole!’ 

“But of course he didn’t die, and the bill was quite 
as large as if he’d had the operation. Leo has no sense 
of economy.” 

And for a minute Mrs. Leo and I shamelessly 
speculated on what quality in him it is that won’t let 
him go to a dentist and have a couple of teeth restored. 
It couldn’t be this, it couldn’t be that 

“And of course,” I said, “it couldn’t be a question 
of physical courage, since Mr. Ditrichstein once — so I 
have heard — fought a duel.” 

“I’ve heard that, more or less vaguely, myself,” 
said Mrs. Leo, interested. “Did you ever fight a duel, 
Leo ?” 

“My dear,” very quietly, “I fought tw r o.” 

“I’ll bet some woman was involved.” 

“Two women,” her husband corrected. “There is 
always a woman at the bottom of a duel.” 



“You devil! . . . Well? Go on! Don’t leave 
us hanging here by our teeth.” 

“My dear, I can’t tell you the silly adventure that 
brought about the first one. Enough to say that I did 
not know the lady was engaged to the gentleman — an 
artillery officer. However . . . when he lifted his 
riding cap and threatened to strike me over the face, I 
punched out hard and hit him a good one. 

“The affair came before the court of honor, or 
whatever you call it, and we were to exchange three 
shots at ten or a dozen paces. I remember the referee 
was a short -legged chap; and when he was measuring 
off the ground one of the seconds cried out to him, 
‘Jump, man! For God’s sake, jump!’ His short legs 
were giving us a rather close range. 

“For each shot the referee was to count slowly 
from one to five. We could shoot any time within the 
count. I let go my first shot quick and wide — I didn’t 
want to kill a man. 

“But he took his time, this artillerist, and a good 
aim, while I stood there with a discharged pistol in my 
hand. I heard the whizz of the bullet and felt some- 
thing — there — on my ear. He’d grazed me, and I was 
bleeding; but it wasn’t serious enough to have us 

“You may be sure I was taking no chances on the 
second shot. I felt that it was my life or his.” Mr. 
Leo’s little eyes for a moment glinted. “I gritted my 
teeth and shot straight to the line and got him in the 
leg. That finished it.” 

“How had you spent the night?” I asked. 
“Walking the floor. It was my debut. And he 
was an artillery officer trained to arms.” 

“Did you write any letters home ?” 


"Write home and let his father know? and catch 

A Duel or Two for Mr. Ditrichstein 21 

a good licking? That wouldn’t be Leo,” said Mrs. Leo. 
“How old were you?” 

“Twenty-two. And that abruptly terminated my 
engagement in Linz, where I was playing.” 

“Who was the other jade you fought over?” 

“She wasn’t, my dear. We were almost, if not 
quite, engaged. I had taken her to a jeweler’s for a 
ring, and the talkative jeweler had done the rest. 

“At any rate, when a man she knew brought sev- 
eral uninvited and unwelcome persons to her house one 
day — imposing on her because she was a woman of the 
stage — I told the man what I thought of him. I exer- 
cised my rights as a fiance and got challenged. 

“It was the same old story of six in the morning 
with pistols at ten or a dozen paces — I forget — and 
dark clothes and our collars turned up so as not to 
show any white for a mark. But this time I had played 
cards all night, instead of walking the floor — I was 
becoming accustomed. 

“And I shot him in the arm at the first shot — and 
left Hamburg very quickly. In fact, my dear, that’s 
what brought me to this country — and to you.” 

“Well, Leo, this is the first time I’ve ever heard 
that. But it’s just like you!” 

“Do you still believe in the Code?” I asked this 
quiet, bald-headed gentleman. 

“The last time I expressed myself on that subject 
it cost me a thousand dollars,” he said with an air of 
unutterable disgust. “The man in Connecticut to whom 
I addressed a challenge turned it over to the police — 
and I was fined!” 

“Don’t talk about it!” cried Mrs. Leo. 

And Mr. Leo didn’t. He had finished — dramatic- 
ally — artistically — just as the doused lights of the cafe 
signaled the hour of closing. 

Angel Cake With' Miss Ferguson 

. _ = n!SS ELSIE FERGUSON’S lovely face 

^ y was almost as close to me as the paper 
rm on w* 1 ^* 1 I am writing, and a clear 
I light beat upon it from the windows of 
yf I her drawing-room at the Ambassador 
|1 A Ml (I can think of twenty beautiful 

actresses whose faces it were an indiscretion to expose 
to such a light) and yet her face was more surpassingly 
lovely than ever before. 

She is more delicately beautiful than stage or 
screen may show. The infantine clearness of her skin 
can’t be counterfeited and projected with makeup; 
there is a note of coral in her live, bronze hair that 
dies in the fires of the footlights. And her mouth, that 
might have been cut by a hand that molded Elgin 
marbles, slightly droops its left lower lip, when you 
are close enough to see, in a way that is ridiculous and 
adorable. And her pensive blue eyes, under their classic 
arches, are a little tired, whether from looking too 
much out at the world or in on oneself, I do not 
know; perhaps both. Her nose, which with a little 
encouragement might have turned up at the tip, is 
not classical, thank God; but I have yet to know that 
this exquisite organ denotes a sense of humor. 

“Miss Ferguson,” I said, from my seat on the 
couch in whose soft corners we were bestowed, “is it 
beauty or brains that has made you what you are in 
the theater?” 


A ctorviews 

It is a combination of both, if I may say so,” she 
answered in that deliberate, earnest way of hers. 

We spoke frankly of her beauty; as frankly as 
we should have spoken of the beauty of a picture she 
had painted or a flower she had grown. 

“Looks,” she presently went on, speaking slowly, 
and the process of thinking slowly indicated by the for- 
mation of two thin parallel depressions that ran, like an 
etcher’s lines, from brow to nose — “looks are a great 
asset to a girl just starting out to be an actress. The 
public and the managers are predisposed in favor of 
the attractive girl. Looks will very often get her her 
chance. But looks alone will take her only so far. I 
never placed my real reliance on mine.” 

“You relied more on what’s called the tempera- 
ment for the stage ?” 

“I believe I have a very emotional nature,” she 
returned gravely. “Oh, not one that spills over for 
every sentimental triviality — not now, at any rate,” 
and she smiled wearily. “Emotions come to the surface 
quicker when one is young than when the years have 
gone by; and I have remembered my emotions, and, 
you might say, stored them for my work.” 

“You remember how you felt when you were 
sixteen ?” 

“Of course! What girl doesn’t? I remember how 
I thought of love, how I fell in love, when I was sixteen 
— what girl doesn’t? It was a thrill that filled every 
thought; nothing but love mattered. And I have,” she 
smilingly sighed, “found the memory of it very helpful 
in playing that act of The Varying Shore’ in which 
Julie is sixteen. I’ve tried to recreate from memory 
and give Julie some of those old (poor abused word!) 
‘vibrations.’ I’ve even tried to remember and reproduce 
the unformed way in which a girl of sixteen speaks.” 

Angel Cake With Miss Ferguson 25 

She smoked her small cigarette silently a moment, 
and I was silent, too. I didn’t know what she was 
thinking about, but I was thinking about her beauty 
and — and at my time of life! — inwardly breathing 
poetry : 

“Was this the face that launch’d a thousand 
ships ?” 

Now I knew what she had been thinking about 
with those pretty puckered lines above her nose and 
the left lower lip drooped. 

“When a girl is sixteen,’’ she said, musically and 
with careful phrase, “she has illusions and ideals.” 

“Still thinking of her Julie !” thought I. 

“When she is twenty-nine,” the sweet voice droned, 
“she still has her ideals, but her illusions are gone.” 

“The next step will be forty,” I said to myself, 
“and I’m glad she thinks of Julie; for I should hate to 
think of eternal Elsie Ferguson thinking of herself as 
forty — the realism would be sordid!” 

“And when she is forty,” said Miss Elsie, with the 
low beat in her voice, “both ideals and illusions are 

“What about when she’s ninety ?” I brightly asked. 

“When she’s ninety — as I am supposed to be in 
one scene of ‘The Varying Shore’ — then I remember 
my mother — her tears held back, her muscles con- 
trolled. Oh, oh, I almost forgot the angel cake ! Don't 
tell me you don’t love angel cake!” 

Of course I couldn’t tell her I don’t love angel 
cake; so we had some with our tea. Mine was such 
a fat piece that I said it was a bribe; but my levity 
had no great success. I don’t think lovely Elsie Fer- 
guson likes levity. 



Oh, I wish I could score for you here the beat and 
cadence of Elsie Ferguson’s voice! Her words are 
cold, I find as I write them ; and they leave one as cold 
as do many of the words in “The Varying Shore.” It 
was her utterance of them that was warm, melodious, 
hypnotic — when her voice was like the G string of a 

I recall saying that she must be paying a hand- 
some sum to act again behind a row of footlights, 
considering what the movies could afford to pay her 
and the stage couldn’t. 

“Yes,” she assented, “and I’m also paying a hand- 
some sum in an effort to make fewer and better pic- 
tures. I’ve cut my picture contract in half, making 
two or three pictures a season where I used to make 
six, or even eight.” And even these details of her 
business, her voice put forth with beauty and with a 
slow but never painful rhythm. 

And I remember that we talked of being a lady — 
and of projecting one across a row of footlights, which 
is quite another thing. I told her a story of Henry 
James, wherein a famous London illustrator (doubtless 
Du Maurier was his prototype) was induced to send 
away his professional models and have sit for his 
pictures of society a real lady and gentleman, whose 
circumstances, but not appearances, were, as the saying 
is, reduced. “The artist could do nothing with these 
unfortunate gentlefolk,” I told Miss Ferguson, “so he 
hired back his professional models; and Henry James 
entitled the story, ironically enough, ‘The Real Thing.’ ” 

“No, I’ve never read that Henry James story,” 
Miss Ferguson said, “but I can appreciate its point; 
and I can tell you something that may interest you: 
The next part I play shall not be a lady. She can be 

Angel Cake PVith Miss Ferguson 27 

anything else, but she mustn’t be a lady. I feel I’ve 
specialized in ladies too long. There’s a superstition 
abroad that I can’t play anything else. 

“A part doesn’t interest me unless it’s a challenge. 
I don’t like the sure things of drama; and perhaps on 
that very account I sometimes make mistakes in choos- 
ing. But I like to play a woman who by experience 
and emotion has developed — up or down, it makes no 
difference so long as the development is there and she 
is true to herself.” 

“Does going into society fatigue you?” 
“Something does, a great deal, and I am sleeping 
poorly; but I shouldn’t blame it all on society.” Only 
her tired eyes smiled. 

“Shouldn’t you delight in a society where there 
was no celebrated Elsie Ferguson, or rather,” I cor- 
rected, “where everybody was an Elsie Ferguson? I 
mean,” I went on, trying to make myself clear, “a 
society in which are gathered sculptors, painters, writ- 
ers, beauties, scholars, wits, all of such distinction and 
acclaim that none would dare think himself or herself 
more important than his neighbor. Wouldn’t it be a 
relief to lose self-consciousness in such a company?” 
“Yes,” said Elsie Ferguson, without passion. “It 
would be fine in such a society to put one’s cards face 
up on the table and to talk, really talk, to split the 
very hairs of every subject.” 

And in the next breath she was telling me of the 
curious worship that comes to her unsought, especially 
through the pictures. She told me of a girl of four- 
teen, unknown to her, who had come up to her in the 
lobby of a theater where “Forever” was showing and 
had said, with tears streaming from her eyes, “Oh, it 
is you, Elsie! I love you so.” (And will you believe 
me when I tell you that Miss Ferguson’s recital of this 



"I love you so!” which had been addressed to her by a 
child in the lobby of a movie theater, was so palpi- 
tatingly dramatic as to thrill me from spine to tear 
duct?) She had, Miss Ferguson told me, embraced the 
girl, and had got to know her mother and her father, 
and was of the belief that the girl would, if it were 
in her power, do anything in the world for the actress 
she had idealized and then realized. 

That was what she said to me in the next breath ; 
and it seemed to tell me that Elsie Ferguson, of the 
screen and of the stage, is even to herself the same 
romantic Elsie Ferguson she was to the stranger child. 
She not only acts and makes negatives of this romantic 
character, but she lives and believes it. It seemed to 
tell me that rich imagination and perfect beauty and 
lovely play-acting may be independent of a sense of 

Heart Interest and 
Mr. A. H. Woods 

Woods was for eight o’clock at the 
Blackstone Hotel. 

At seven-thirty the news went 
whanging through Chicago that his 
new playhouse — the about-to-be-opened 
Woods Theater — had been bombed at its Dearborn 
street entrance. 

I heard this news at seven fifty-five. 

“A fine time,” thought I, “to expect to find a 
manager sitting at home waiting for me to come up 
and take his interview for a Sunday newspaper.” 

And then it occurred to me that “Al” Woods has 
among his kind a curious reputation for always paying 
his bets. And I continued on my way to the hotel, and 
Mr. Woods kept his engagement. He was waiting for 
me. As far as I am concerned, his reputation for 
paying his bets is safe forevermore. 

He was laughing when I got to the Blackstone. 
And I had to laugh, too, when I heard what he 
had been telling the innocent gentlemen of the press 
who had asked him whom he suspected of trying to 
blow down the Woods Theater. 

“I told them,” he laughed, “that if it wasn’t the 
Shuberts it was Klaw and Erlanger.” 

Then he said, “Let’s go upstairs and talk before 
they blow it up again.” And the millionaire producer 


A ctorviews 

produced a couple of fifty-cent cigars that have 
advanced to sixty to pay the expenses of the War. 

He led the way through a long bedroom to a longer 
living-room that was littered with the manuscripts of 

“My traveling companions,” he said of them. “I 
once went to Europe with one collar. I had it on. 
But I always travel with a gripful of plays, sometimes 
a trunkful. You can buy fresh linen on shipboard 
easier than you can buy fresh ’scripts.” 

“How do you mean fresh ’scripts?” said I. 

“I mean,” he said, “that I’d always rather produce 
the play of an unknown author than of a guy that’s 
had four or five successes. The successful playwright 
is always due for a failure. The unknown playwright 
— if his stuff is good enough to ‘get’ you in the reading 
— is always due for a success. With a new author 
there’s a chance for a new idea.” 

“What’s the first quality you look for in a 

“Heart interest.” 

“In an actor?” 

“Heart interest. If he hasn’t got it here” — he 
touched his pocket handkerchief — “I’m off him for 

“I just left a man who said, ‘So you’re going to 
see A1 Woods! He’s the greatest dice-shaking pro- 
ducer we’ve got.’ Are you?” 

And Mr. Woods, who talks and thinks, and no 
doubt dreams, in slang, said he didn’t know what a 
“dice-shaking producer” meant. 

“Are you a gambler?” 

“Of course — I’m a business man.” 

“Do you believe in luck?” 

Heart Interest and Mr. A. H. JV oods 31 

“I believe in hunches — my own hunches.” He 
talks like an etcher. 

“How far will you go on one?” 

“The cost of a production. Which cost, by the 
way, is usually exaggerated in the mind of the public. 
It only costs about twelve or fifteen thousand to pro- 
duce the average play.” 

“WTiat’s your special ‘hunch’?” 

“I’ve only got one — my personal liking for a play. 
I’ve never produced a play I didn’t like myself. And I 
never will — I don’t care how high- or low-brow it 
may be — I don’t care who says it’s rotten. 

“From the time I get my hunch for a manuscript 
till the night it’s produced,” he went on, “I’m inter- 
ested. I get my cast, my scenes painted, oh, all the 
details. And then get my kick out of the game — my 
compensation — on the opening night.” 

“And then, if it’s a success, you get .your big 
thrills in watching it grow?” 

“No!” said Mr. W T oods to that amiable picture of 
himself. “That’s not a bit like it. After its first per- 
formance I don’t care a damn about the play.” 

“How did you come to strike out for yourself?” 
“Heart interest.” 

“W T hat?” 

“I said it.” 

“You’ll have to say more.” 

“You’ve got me going tonight. I think I will. 
But it’s going to be very personal. 

“I went into a Kansas City jewelry store to hang 
a picture of Terry McGovern for ‘The Bowery After 
Dark.’ Saw a good-looking girl shopping there. I’d 
never seen her before. I asked her if she’d like to go 



to the show. Gave her a couple of tickets, and she sees 
me after the show and gives me back one of them. 

“ ‘You’ve got nerve, sending me to that rotten 
show,’ she says. 

“ ‘I’ve got more nerve than that,’ says I. ‘What’s 
the matter with us getting married?’ 

“She takes a handkerchief out of her purse, and 
I see a lot of bills in her purse. 

“ ‘That’s too much money for a young girl to be 
carrying around loose,’ says I. 

“ ‘It’s only about four hundred,’ says she. 

“ ‘Well, it’s too much even at that,’ says I. ‘And 
you ought to have a strong guy looking out for it.’ 

“So I took it to keep for her. Part of it I spent 
buying her a ring and a camera. I didn’t have a bean; 
and she always wanted a camera. 

“ ‘How much do you make ?’ she says when I gave 
her the presents. 

“And I told her — forty a week. 

“ ‘How do you expect to support me on forty a 
week?’ says she. 

“ ‘I don’t,’ says I. ‘You give me five thousand and 
I’ll go out in business for myself.’ 

“And she did ; and Rose and I got married ; and I’ve 
been married and in business ever since.” 

“What do you do on your night off?” 

“Go to see a failure — never a success.” 


“To find out what makes it a failure. That’s my 
business as much as going to first nights. Why don’t 
you ask me why I go to first nights ?” 

“I suppose you go to see whether the play ‘gets 
over.’ ” 

“No; the newspapers tell me all about that. I go 

Heart Interest and Mr. A. H. TV oods 33 

to get my casts among the unemployed players that 
always turn out for first nights. I stand in the lobby 
and watch the actors come in. ‘Conway, I want you,’ 
I says the other night. That’s the way I signed Tearle. 
I knew there was somebody I wanted for a certain 
part, and the minute I see him I knew he was the guy. 
Got Olive Wyndham the same way. I wanted Florence 
Moore every time I saw her walking into an opening 
for five years; but I didn’t have the part till ‘Parlor, 
Bedroom and Bath’ turned up.” 

“You say the newspapers can tell you about an 

“Sure they can. They do. They’re right, mostly. 
Once in a while they call it wrong on a show the people 
want; but most of the time the critics are right.” 
“You take dramatic criticism seriously?” 

“Yes; and I’ll tell you how seriously. I signed 
Eileen Huban for three years, with an option on the 
next two, just on the strength of her notices in ‘Grass- 
hopper.’ I’d never seen her. I offered Elsie Mackay 
a contract on nothing but what the Chicago critics said 
about her looks. I was willing to gamble on her learn- 
ing how to act. And I signed Marjorie Rambeau on 
the strength of notices she pulled out of two failures.” 
“Who’s your favorite dramatic critic?” 

“The poor guy can’t write — but he knows what he 

“I know the kind — what’s his name?” 

“A1 Woods.” 

“How’d you come to build the Woods Theater?” 
“By way of putting back into Chicago some of 
the money the town has given me — and making some 
more. I knew I needed my own theater here when I 
had to send ‘The Littlest Rebel’ to New York — it was 



a fortune at the Chicago Opera House — in order to get 
a house here for ‘Gypsy Love.’ I told Erlanger I 
wanted to send ‘Gypsy Love’ to Chicago. He said: 

“ ‘I know a better place — the store house.’ 

“Well, if I hadn’t had a Chicago success to swap 
him for a New York failure, I couldn’t have brought 
‘Gypsy Love’ here and made something like a hundred 
thousand out of this and other midwestern territory. 
I knew then I needed my own Chicago theater.” 

“You’ve built a good one.” 

“Yes, I think it’s the best production I ever made. 
But wait till you see the Apollo ! . . . 

“I’m glad Louie Mann wasn’t here in time for the 
bomb. He was pretty well scared of his German part 
in ‘Friendly Enemies.’ . . . 

“Funny, about that play. Did I tell you it was 
written in five days?” 

“What took so long?” 

“I’ll tell you about that. But first — well, Sam 
Bernard meets me at the Knickerbocker and tells me 
Arthur Hopkins is after a play that Sammy Shipman 
and Aaron Hoffman want to w'rite. Bernard wants 
me to get it and put him and Mann in it — talk about 
high explosives! Only, he’s afraid, he says, that 
some guy will shoot Mann for the German he’ll have 
to play. 

“Now, the funny part of this is that I’ve just that 
day given this guy Shipman a thousand dollars on a 
ten-minute scenario of this play — and given it to him 
just to get rid of him. He’s pestering the life out of 
me with the big idea. 

“Strange, how things sometimes run in bunches. 
Bernard and I walk down the street and run plump 
into Mann. And before either of us can say a word 
Mann says: 

Heart Interest and Mr . A. H. Woods 


“ ‘If you get the play, Al, I’ll do it — even if they 
shoot me.’ 

“ ‘What’s your salary, Louie?’ says I ; and he gives 
it a figure. 

“ ‘That ain’t right, Louie,’ says I ; and he swears 
himself blue telling me it’s his regular salary. 

“ ‘I’ll give you so much,’ says I, naming it; and he 
turns from blue to red because I’ve raised him a hun- 
dred for taking a chance.” 

“Immense!” I told Mr. Woods. “But how about 
'Friendly Enemies’ being written in five days?” 

“Oh, I forgot to tell you that this talk was on 
Tuesday. Well, the next Sunday those guys, Shippy 
and Hoffman, turn up at my house and show me the 
completed play. 

“But that wasn’t the funniest thing they showed 
me. They showed me a bill for $150 for cigars smoked 
from Tuesday to Saturday. They couldn’t afford to 
write more than five days.” 

Why God Loves the Irish 

rE=~p=E==ffiN THE Celtic Grill at the Sherman — by- 
all means the Celtic grill ! — Miss Maire 
O’Neill sat between me and her fellow 
Irish Player, Arthur Sinclair, and one 
thing and another happened for us 
^ besides a very good lunch. It was 

Uarmval Convention at Hotel Sherman and the freaks 
were all over the place. 

There was the Giant. He had to bend to get 
through the doorway. He was a fair young man with 
a timid face and unbelievable legs — he didn’t seem to 
believe them himself. The waiter said he was nine feet 
seven and ate double portions. Miss O’Neill’s gorgeous 
eyes blinked at the sight. “God Almighty, this is 
awful! — wonderful! — marvelous!” she cried. 

“Their legs are always too long,” said Mr. Sinclair, 
in general dispraise of giants. 

“He brings back to me the first days of the Abbey 
Theater,” Miss O’Neill sighed pleasantly. "In those 
Dublin days we had no orchestra, not even a piano, till 
William Butler Yeats went out and borrowed one — and 
a terrible thing it was, all cracked and yellow-keyed. 
. . . I can see Yeats, wonderful in his flowing but- 

terfly tie, standing in front of the moth-eaten curtains 
and saying we’ve just got a piano, but none of us can 
play it, but if anybody in the audience . . . 

“ ‘I will,’ says a voice ; and a man rises from his 
seat, foot by foot, yard by yard, as high as this lad 


A ctorviews 

who just came in, and walks down the aisle to the 

“ ‘I’d love to play it,’ says he, examining it back 
and front — ‘where’s the handle?’ 

“Ah, those were the days!” Miss O’Neill sighed. 
“Plenty of turmoil and twelve-and-six for salary. 
That’s what I got then, and what he got, too.” 

“Twenty-five shillings I got,” Mr. Sinclair 

“Twelve-and-six! Don’t be a snob. You may be 
worth your hundreds of pounds now, but twelve-and- 
six, Arthur, is what you got and what you earned in 
those old days near fifteen years ago.” 

“Twenty-five shillings I got and not a penny less. 
And have you noticed what pretty eyes she has?” said 
Mr. Sinclair by way of concluding the argument. 

I had. And her vivid gray eyes, like her acting, 
like many of her half-finished electrical gestures, 
reminded me of Mrs. Fiske — whom Miss O’Neill has 
never seen. 

“Mrs. Fiske might be your sister,” I was going to 
say, when it occurred to me that Sarah Algood is her 
sister; so instead I asked her why she had not taken 
the Algood name for the stage. 

“A large brain wave possessed me to use my 
mother’s name and not trade on my sister’s reputation. 
It was ages before a soul knew we were related. People 
would talk to her from the depths of their heart of 
Molly O’Neill, and to me of Sally Algood — and these 
talks we’d exchange every night in the bed.” 

We were talking of the music that lies in Irish 
drama Irishly spoken, wdien Mr. Sinclair was reminded 
of a day in Southport, England. 

“I and three others of the company were put up 

Why God Loves the Irish 


there at the house of a ‘leading citizen.’ A lady met 
him in the street and asked if he had been to see the 
Irish Players. ‘See them !’ he said, ‘I’ve got four of ’em 
staying with me at the house.’ 

“ ‘And do they talk the same off the stage ?’ 

“ ‘Worse,’ replied the leading citizen.” 

‘‘Mister O’Reilly! Mister Playboy!” 

Mr. Sinclair looked at the page incredulously. “I’ll 
not believe it,” he said, his small and too beautiful 
hands playing with his checkered cuffs, playing with 
the many pearl buttons sewed on his green coat sleeve 

above them. “ ’Tis the gin. I’ll not believe !” 

“Mister O’Reilly !” plainly shouted the page. “Mr. 
Playboy !” 

“Do you hear that, too, Molly?” 

“God Almighty ! but the strange things do happen 
here today,” admitted Miss O’Neill. “ ‘Mister Play- 
boy!’ It’s like a ghost of the living. Ah, I wish we 
were now playing ‘The Playboy of the Western World’ 
— even with but twenty persons in the house. It was 

“It was Life,” quoth Mr. Sinclair. 

“It was Synge,” almost with reverence said the not 
habitually revering Maire O’Neill, whose humor, I 
think, makes her shy of seriousness. 

“I’ll never forget the time we were hearing pro- 
tests against ‘The Playboy’ at the old Abbey,” spoke 
Mr. Sinclair, “and a man clambered onto the stage to 
protest against the drunken scene. He reeled and 
would have fallen but for Yeats catching him. Then 
out of his pocket there crashed to the stage a bottle of 
whisky that would be worth much now in this country. 
The bottle broke, and every drop was lost, and the man 
thrown out on all fours.” 

“I’ve seen more than bottles broken on the stage,” 



Miss O’Neill remembered softly — “I’ve seen eggs and 
the corpses of animals not recently dead. In Liverpool 
one night when we were playing Synge’s ‘The Tinker’s 
Wedding’ — in Liverpool, where every night I had to 
give the man that played the priest a full bottle of 
brandy to keep his cowardice down — they tore into the 
masonry — at least into the molding — and threw it at 
us. And somebody let fly a great pocketknife, which 
caught one of us flat in the breast, taking the wind all 
out of him. But everything was not ill luck that night, 
for when I picked up the knife I found that one of its 
blades was a corkscrew, which came in handy for my 
brandy drinker.” 

“I’ve seen worse things thrown than that, Molly.” 
“Have you now?” 

“When first we played ‘The Playboy’ in New York 
they threw Ingersoll watches.” 

“What was all the throwing about, anyway?” I 
wanted to know. 

“In Dublin,” Mr. Sinclair explained, “they objected 
to the use of the word shift, and the objection came 
overseas with ‘The Playboy.’ ” 

“I remember,” smiled Miss O’Neill, “a letter to 
Sally from a relative, who said her blood froze and her 
marrow jelled when she heard on the stage the word 
shift used for a garment which even in the privacy 
of her home she never referred to but as a chemise. 
Here is the line — let me recall it — the Playboy says: 
‘I wouldn’t leave Peggeen, not if you brought me a 
drift of chosen females standing in their shifts itself.’ ” 
“That’s the line,” dropped Mr. Sinclair, “that 
made the Abbey Theater famous.” 

“That’s the play that made the Abbey Theater 

Why God Loves the Irish 


famous,” Miss O’Neill corrected, “and I wish we were 
playing it tonight.” 

“As I do myself,” Mr. Sinclair assented. “ ‘The 
White-Headed Boy’ is a good show, it is, but it ” 

“But it is not Literature,” said Miss O’Neill, with 
a capital L again. 

“I remember,” expanded Mr. Sinclair, “when we 
all got arrested — on account of ‘The Playboy’ in Phila- 
delphia. We were in the court of a police magistrate 
of the name of James Carey — I’ll never forget him! A 
witness was trying to repeat a line from the play and 
getting it all wrong, and we Players all laughed, we 

“‘Silence!’ cried the magistrate. ‘Don’t you know 
you’re in a court of law ? Stop that noise or I’ll throw 
the whole of you into the street’ — the whole of us being 
prisoners at the bar!” 

“Stink bombs we’ve suffered for that play — and 
enjoyed it,” sighed Miss O’Neill. 

“Didn’t two of the company coming to Chicago to 
play it make their wills before we opened here?” Mr. 
Sinclair declared with a rising inflection. 

“Did they have anything to leave, Arthur?” 

“A fine overcoat one of them had. But we got 
cheered here, I remember, and the wills were torn up. 
It was so peaceful we might have been playing ‘The 
White-Headed Boy’ at the Olympic.” 

"Small chance for a riot with that play,” Miss 
O’Neill regretted. “I had hope the other night, when 
something was flung from the balcony. But it was only 
a marshmallow. For an instant, though, I thought it 
was something hard and had a thrill.” 

“Mr. Rosenstein! Mr. Rosenstein!” cried the page. 

“Not at this table,” murmured Miss O’Neill. 

"Peace and prosperity, a rua instead of a reper- 



tory, aren’t,” I retraced, “much like the old fighting 

“I’d give my soul,” vowed Molly O’Neill, “for a bit 
of disturbance at this prosperous play!” 

“There’s Sinclair’s line about Ireland — that,” I 
suggested, “might get some confetti if you had enough 
hard-boiled Englishmen out in front.” 

“Not the way Arthur’s substituted ‘English gov- 
ernment’ for ‘English people’ and ‘damned thing’ for 
‘bloody thing.’ There’s no riot in the line now,” she 
said with a twinkle. 

“It’s as good a speech as ever it was. Listen to 
it!” demanded Mr. Sinclair. “The boy says, ‘I want to 
be free!’ And ‘My God!’ I say, ‘isn’t he like poor old 
Ireland — asking for freedom ? And we’re like the Eng- 
lish government, offering them every damned thing but 
the right thing.’ I won’t say ‘bloody’ — not on the 
stage; it’s a bloody low word.” 

“For the love of God, Arthur, can’t you make some 
sacrifice for your country! — He loves that line better 
than life itself, the man does.” With one informing eye 
Miss O’Neill treated me to a bewitching wink, and lest 
I miss that, her shoe momentarily trod my shoe. “Tell 
him, Arthur, what you said the night you were afraid 
peace had been made for Ireland. Tell him yourself.” 
“I said, ‘Oh, my God, if peace is settled, what’ll 
become of my big line!’ But, of course, I said it only 
in ” 

“There are no buts and of courses in it,” laughed 
Molly O’Neill. “For the love of God, Arthur, can’t you 
make some sacrifice for a good story!” 

“A hell of a disposition — but do you notice what 
pretty eyes she has? — Well, you get the dog now, Molly 
and I’ll take you both for a taxi ride.” 

A Rube Aphrodite 

woman who counterfeits the nude 
statue of Aphrodite in Mr. Gest’s 
impassioned production of that name, 
did not know that she was being “inter- 
viewed.” It is no fault of hers that 
sue is neie exposed with her shoes, stockings, skirt 
and wrist- watch on; I take all the blame for the 
inartistic deed. 

They have a suppress-agent department in the 
“Aphrodite” organization which sees to it that in the 
newspapers Miss Walker is never photographed, para- 
graphed, biographed. She is the most widely unknown 
sensation on the stage. 

But when in the lobby of the Auditorium I hap- 
pened casually to be introduced to her and her dressing 
room mate, Georgiana Decker, who acts Myrtis (the 
smaller of the two little sisters that play about Chry- 
sis) ; when I had walked with Mildred and Georgiana to 
the corner drug store, and ordered malted milks all 
round and a whole half-pound of peppermint candy; 
when I had found out what Mildred really is — why, 
then I made up my mind to steal an interview. 

For I found out that the world’s nakedest actress 
in the most startling theatrical production of the 
century is — a rube. On my soul and conscience, the 
supreme revealment in this disrobed drama is just a 
little rube. 



“Mildred,” I said, “what would you have said if 
they’d arrested you on the opening night and taken 
you before a judge and charged you with appearing 
before three thousand persons as naked as when you 
were born?” 

“ ‘Jedge,’ I’d ’a’ said,” said Mildred, with her 
quaint small-town accent and her rube telescoping of 
the words, “ ’t ain’t so ! — I gotta piece of court-plaster 
on !’ And what I said would ’a’ been true any night — or 
matinee.” (Set the double “e” in italics, Mr. Printer, 
and it will sound just as Mildred said it.) 

“I’ll b’ glad when ’t gets real Winter ’gain,” Mil- 
dred was telling Georgiana and me. “I git homesick 
for home in Summertime.” Her suit bespoke a Fifth 
avenue tailor, and her velour hat may have seen 
Paris recently, and her pretty little face (with its slim 
lips and perfect nose and eager blue eyes, all lit by 
reddish, curlish hair) was the face of the city dweller. 
But her short-cut speech was purest rube, and I 
wouldn’t citify it for a load of clover. 

“Where’s ‘home’?” said I. 

“West Winfield, N. Y.,” Mildred said, pronouncing 
the initials. “There’s a store ’n’ coupla churches ’n’ 
popcorn stand ’n’ saloon — but it’s ice-cream parlor now 
— ’n’ our next-door neighbor, th’ widow- woman, Mis’ 

“Y’oughta hear her when I went home with the 
Aphrodite poster. She looks at it and tightens her 
mouth ’n’ she says: 

“ ‘Guess y’u didn’t have many clothes on when thet 
was took!’ 

“ ‘None ’t all, Mis’ Nichols.’ 

“ ‘H’m ! How d’y’u think I’d look standing up 
there like thet ?’ ” 

A Rube Aphrodite 


"They think it’s terrible for Mildred to be an 
actress,” cooed little Georgiana, who is all city child. 

"Thought ’t was wuss to be an artists’ model,” Mil- 
dred enlarged. “I was making some dolls’ clothes for 
a kid. She came down t’ the gate one day ’n’ just 
stood there, with her finger in her mouth; wouldn’t 
come into the yard. When I asked her what’s the 
matter, she says : 

“ ‘My maw says I mustn’t come any more ’cause 
you’re one of them artists’ models.’ ” 

"What do you call folks who talk and think like 
that, Mildred?” I asked Mildred. 

“Rubes,” said Mildred. “There’s nothin’ but rubes 
in West Winfield. That’s why I’m homesick for ’t. 
I’m a rube myself. But I know it — and they don’t. 
You couldn’t make Hennery Pickerskill believe he’s a 

“Who’s Henry ?” asked Georgiana. “I never heard 
of that one.” 

"Hennery,” said Mildred, gently correcting the 
pronunciation of her companion, “is my swain. He’s 
got a brown derby ’n’ thinks he’s a sport. He’s got a 
cigar, too, by Susan! — which he never lights. But 
y’oughta see him tuck it in his smile every time he 
passes our house. . . . And then there’s Hennery’s 
uncle, Joshua Pickerskill. Oh, he’d kill you dead!” 
Mildred laughed. “Old Josh Pickerskill would.” 

So I risked my life and heard about Hennery’s 

“Old Josh Pickerskill married a young wife,” Mil- 
dred said, and shook her head bodefully. “And folks 
jest set ’round ’n’ waited. Didn’t have t’wait ver’ long, 

“Old Josh comes into the store, nervous-like, one 



day. He gets him a bite of Star eating-tobacco offen 
Lut Jennings, and chews round without a word till 
finally nobody could stand it any longer and Jedge 
Pennoyer up and says: 

“ ‘Land o’ prunes, Josh, what you got on your 
mind ?' 

“ ‘Shock,’ says Josh, very quiet. ‘I happened home 
’n hour earlier ’n usual today, and as I walks through 
the settin’-room I see young Doc Snodgrass kissin’ my 

“What the town’d waited for had come. Every- 
body in the store was silent for a minute.” And for 
a minute Mildred was silent, too. 

“Then Jedge Pennoyer he says to Hennery’s uncle, 
‘Josh,’ he says terribly anxious, ‘what did yo’ do?’ 

“ ‘I grabbed up the pail,’ says old Josh, ‘and went 
out and fed the calf — and I guess by the way I slammed 
the door they see I don’t like it very well.’ 

“Coupla days later the Jedge asks him what he’s 
done ’bout young Doc Snodgrass. 

“ ‘Ain’t had time t’ do nothin’ yet,’ says Josh, T>ut, 
by Hekr, before Saturday Pm going to make him give 
me a sack of flour!’ 

“Do you w r onder I git homesick for home?” said 
Mildred, with her third helping of peppermint. 

And — perhaps because we were in a drug store — 
the talk somehow drifted to the mixture with which 
every night, before appearing as the statue, Mildred 
coats her gleaming body. Informally I was told that 
the fluid is composed of oxide of zinc, witch-hazel, 
bay-rum, rose-water and glycerin. 

“You try it first on your arm, to see it’s the right 
thinness,” said Mildred to me — to me ! “And you must 
be keerful not to sit down after ’t dries — it’ll crack 
on you.” 

A Rube Aphrodite 


I could see myself plated with Aphrodite mixture, 
and I had to laugh. I had been holding in, and now 
a hundred held laughs burst from me. 

“I know what you’re laughin’ at — it’s the rube 
way I talk,” said Mildred, without sorrow, without 
anger, resignedly. "I’ve tried to talk like people, but 
somehow I jes’ can’t.” 

"She talks just the way she did the day she came 
into the studios in New York and we all called her 
‘Taters’ ; but I wouldn’t have her change it for anything 
in the world,” declared the doting Georgiana, whose 
sentiments were my own. “She was the loveliest model 
for the nude those artists had ever seen. No wonder 
Mr. Gest stopped looking — he’d looked at hundreds — 
when he saw Mildred. — Oh, Mildred, do you ever hear 
any more of Madame Hermes’ suit against you?” 

“No,” said Mildred, “and I’m still infringing.” 

“What are you infringing ?” the curse of curiosity 
impelled me to ask. 

“Oh, it’s a long story,” Mildred sighed, “but I’ll try 
to shorten it. This Madame Hermes was a ‘livin' 
picture’ producer. Mr. Gest engaged her to put the 
mixture on me. When we closed in New York for the 
summer she wanted me to go to work for her at Coney 
Island — wanted me to exhibit myself as the ‘Original 
Statue of Aphrodite’ somewhere between Hazel Hep- 
ner, the bearded lady, and Zip, the wild man. And I 
said no; and she said then she wouldn’t make me up 
next season. I said I’d put the stuff on myself. Then 
Madame Hermes got red in the eye and she cried: 

“ ‘See that that stuff is all you do put on. For that 
court-plaster is my patent, and if I catch you using it 
I’ll sue you for infringement.’ ” 

“Do you think she really has got a patent on it?” 



Georgiana asked. I couldn’t have asked if my life 

“I don’t calcalate she has,” said Mildred gravely. 
“Folks say you gotta send a photo of your invention 
to Washington — and — well — I’d like to see her get me 
in that picture!” 

The Gravest Fault of 
Sir Herbert Tree 

CTING,” said Herbert Beerbohm Tree, 
who had just completed a distinguished 
pattern of it with the role of Cardinal 
Wolsey in “Henry VIII” at the Illinois 
Theater, “is a matter of hypnotism.” 
He qualified with the lighter touch that 
is characteristic of the man who talks as wittily as he 
writes : 

“No matter what the faults of the actor, no matter 
how enormous, he can with hypnotism induce at least 
a part of his audience to believe that he is what the 
dramatis personae proclaims him.” 

England’s wittiest actor laughed at his way of put- 
ting it. Finding him in this mood, I pressed the 
subject and asked him to tell me what he regarded 
as his gravest defects as an actor. But his answer 
was deferred; Sir Herbert has a delicious sense of the 
dramatic, and who knows but he deliberately saved 
it for the “tag” of our dressing-room drama? 

He told me rapidly, in spare words and with much 
more of gesture than he permits himself on the stage, 
that he could measure the quality of an actor by his 
handshake. In the air he moved a hand flabbily and 
heavily. The actor with that handshake was a fish. 
But the one whose grip w r as light and nervously alive! 
He was — Sir Herbert touched his brow — an intelli- 
gence, a somebody, an actor. He said actor with a fine 



pride in the word, the pride of a craftsman and artist. 

Some actors, I dare say, are proud to be knights; 
Tree is a knight who is proud to be an actor. He 
has no use for the one that would be a gentleman first 
and an actor second. He has an artist’s horror of the 
genteel, and told me that the best advice he ever had 
given to a young player was: “For heaven’s sake, don’t 
be genteel; be natural and keep your vowels open.” 

He did not tell me what he thought of the tribal 
dialects of the great Middle West that acclaims him, 
but he was emphatic in his disesteem of what he 
termed the cockneyisms of his own country, which 
now, it seems, have traversed from the V’d W’s of 
Dickens to what Sir Herbert calls “squeezed vowels.” 

“These,” he said, “are infinitely worse than the 
vigorous vulgarity of the Victorian”; and asked me 
how I liked his v-ful alliteration, which you may be 
sure I liked almost as well as I liked his boyish way 
of liking it himself. 

A big man’s boyishness is doubly striking; and 
Tree is very big at close range, with his high Du 
Maurier figure, still young eyes, deep-set in a face that 
is Britishly mastiff rather than Britishly bulldog. 

Suddenly the talk went to war and presently he 
was relating an experience in Germany when he acted 
before and talked king-to-king with the Emperor. 

“I had the honor of playing before the German 
Emperor in ‘Richard II,’ a play and a part I love. And I 
played direct to him in his box as I came to the speech : 

“ For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground 
And tell sad stories of the death of kings — ” 

The Gravest Fault of Sir Herbert Tree 51 

Tree read it swiftly, giving point and emphasis 
only when he came to 

Keeps death his court and there the antic sits, 

Scoffing his state, grinning at his pomp — 

“I had thrown myself to the ground, my chin in 
my hand, my eyes straight on the Emperor’s. There 
was intoxication in the situation, and I felt it in my 
veins. . . . Well, when I was summoned to the 

royal box the Emperor spoke, complimented, you know. 
We could at least agree in all modesty that Shakes- 
peare was a great dramatist. 

“ ‘Great because he is dramatic,’ said the Emperor. 

“ ‘All great events in history are great because 
they are dramatic,’ I answered him ; and, in the thrill 
of the moment, aided perhaps by the consciousness 
that my costume of King Richard was more royal than 
his of the German Emperor and that we two were 
for the moment staged as king and king, I added: 
‘And, if I may say so, what I’ve said of “events in 
history” is applicable to individuals.’ ” 

Sir Herbert reconstructed the scene thrillingly. 
I not only heard, I saw, a prince of play-actors bestow- 
ing upon a prince of the purple a princely compliment. 

“For that instant,” he said, “we were equals.” 

He did not say: “For that instant, the German 
Emperor and Sir Herbert Tree were two accomplished 
actors giving a great performance.” He did not have 
to..say it. 

He never says it all. He told me: “An English- 
man talks better than he speaks, and an American 
speaks better than he talks” — from which, together 
with his amused smile, it was to be gathered that our 



dinner-table anecdotage is sometimes less to his liking 
than the creative conversation of a London dinner in 
which the anecdote of a tomorrow is bora. 

He told me of the manner in which Sir Edward 
Grey informed England that she was not bound to go 
to war, but that “there is honor, gentlemen, the honor 
of the country.” It was told in the hem-y and haw-y 
manner of the English country gentleman; but some- 
thing in the air vibrated. 

Then Sir Herbert struck the table four times 
slowly. Big Ben had boomed that many times just 
one minute too late — sixty seconds after Sir Edward 
had ceased. 

“If you had been making that speech,” Tree said 
he had said to a famous London stage director, “you 
would have waited for Big Ben to strike.” 

Then he turned on himself. He imitated the 
Scotsman who praised every player but one in Tree’s 
production of “Twelfth Night.” As name after name 
rolled off the burr, Tree had listened in vain for his 

And finally, at parting, the Scot had said: “I’ve 
forgotten something important”; and Tree beamed on 
him, sure that his compliment was come at last. 
“Vurra important,” said the Scot. “I was reading an 
article of yours in the Fortnightly the other day. It 
was wonderful. You must have meestaken your 

And there was the lady with: “Oh, I went to see 
you as Herod ten years ago. It was remarkable. I 
never went to see you again.” 

“You tell them well on you,” I laughed. 

“It’s one of my favorite egotisms,” he laughed 

“Speaking of the faults of an actor that may or 

The Gravest Fault of Sir Herbert Tree 53 

may not be ameliorated by the uses of hypnotism,” I 
said, going back to the front for the finish, “what 

should you say are your own gravest faults as an ?” 

Sir Herbert, interrupting perfectly, spoke as one 
emerging from profound meditation: 

“I am trying to disentangle them from my vir- 
tues.” Then the most widely dispraised of highly- 
placed actors flashed on me: 

“My gravest fault is a too-great deference to 
dramatic criticism.” 

The Double Life of Ina Claire 

HERE was a tap on our living-room 
door, followed by the warning voice of 
mother : 

“It’s Ina Claire; wipe the egg off 
your chin!” 

I had failed to find Miss Claire at 
the Ambassador, so she found me at the Virginia. 

“I’ve come,” she said, “to have my interview 
taken” — and handed me her Malacca walking stick, 
unsilvered, while she permitted me to aid her out of 
her long outsloping leopard coat. 

“This is friendly of you,” I said, buttoning the 
top button of my waistcoat and restoring the stick. 

“I know that a little kindness goes a long way 
with a drama critic, having one in my own family,” 
not unproudly (I thought) said she, who is known on 
the marriage register at Wheaton, 111., as Mrs. James 

“How is the delightful dog?” said I. 

“Jimmie,” she imparted, “is swollen with health 
and a new fur coat he purchased in Paris ; he looks like 
a doubtful banker. I suppose you know that the Shu- 
berts have barred him from all their New York theaters 
for saying in the New York Daily News that one of 
them — I forget which one — was a mausoleum?” 

“Yes, I know. Now he can count on a couple of 
free nights every week.” 

“I wonder,” she speculated, “what a barred critic 
does with his free nights — when his wife is out of 



“Well,” I answered, “there’s Charles Collins of 
the Chicago Evening Post; he’s been disbarred from 
certain local theaters for several years now. So every 
night there’s an opening at the Garrick or the Stude- 
baker or the Princess he sits him down and w r rites a 
short story and sells it to the Saturday Evening Post, 
or Harper’s Bazaar, or the Red Book for a thousand 

“My God,” she thrilled, “if it’s that profitable, I 
hope they never let Jimmie in!” 

She was pretty as a pomegranate, with her fair 
hair waved up and back, her hazel eyes frolicking under 
her broad brow, her thirty-six perfect cream teeth 
dancing behind her broad, plastic mouth; she was live 
as the unclouded morning. And w r hen we had talked 
about good Arthur Byron and about wicked “Blue- 
beard’s Eighth Wife” — in which they share the stellar 
distinction at the Shubert-Garrick, where the bar on 
Whittakers does not include Jimmie’s wife — we talked 
about the ideal comedy for Ina. 

“It could be written,” I told her, “on your own 
secret honeymoon here in Chicago. What a comedy of 
love and lies and youth and — naughty appearances!” 

“We had to lie,” she comically protested. “I sim- 
ply couldn’t be domestic — then. It would have been 
too publicly terrible. Fancy domesticity and ‘The Gold 
Diggers’! I came on here for my vacation vowing I 
wouldn’t marry Jimmie. He told me that he had made 
all the arrangements, that he had gone out on the 
North Side and selected the city’s most respectable 
apartment in a little by-street as innocent as Po- 
mander Walk. ‘But,’ I said, ‘I haven’t come to marry 
you this time, Jimmie; perhaps some other time, but 
not now.’ At which he shoved me into a hired auto- 

The Double Life of Ina Claire 


mobile and told the man to drive to Wheaton. And 
there we were united in holy bonds, with the chauffeur 
and a stranger in blue overalls as the only witnesses. 

“It was a jazz marriage,” she sighed pleasantly. 
“When we got to the apartment there were eight full 
milk bottles on the back porch — Jimmie hadn’t been 
‘home’ for a week — and dust all over the place as thick 
as plush. And I had always pictured myself getting 
married with all my friends enviously looking on as I 
walked up the aisle in white satin and pearls! 

“That apartment, believe me, was no place for 
white satin. Everything was dusty ; and everything 
we touched broke — plates broke, chairs broke, even the 
bed broke. And the neighbors were scandalized. 

“It was the tragedy of our comical honeymoon,” 
she amusedly wailed, “that the only people we wanted 
to believe us married — our nice, quiet, middle-class 
neighbors of this most respectable Pomander Walk 
— wouldn’t, couldn’t believe that we were married. 
They sneaked up the back stairs and read the lettering 
on my trunks — not ‘Mrs. J. Whittaker,’ but ‘Miss I. 
Claire.’ And they saw my underthings hanging on 
the line and knew that nothing so gay could belong 
to a decent married woman.” 

“Didn’t you,” I broke in, “lose a maid because she 
wouldn’t work for a lady who wore such lascivious 

“We lost one maid that way. But usually we lost 
the lingerie, too. The colored maids would run South 
with it and never come back. We were habitu- 
ally maidless — and the dishes piled neck high. One 
day — it was the third day — I got hungry and had to 
wash a dish. I am not,” Ina didn’t have to tell me, 
“what is called a good housekeeper. But, just the 
same, when Jimmie said his mother was coming to 


A ctorviews 

pay her first call on me, I tied up my head and got a 
duster and a mop and a bottle of furniture polish 
and cleaned house. ‘Well,’ said Jimmie to his mother, 
proudly, ‘what do you think of her?’ 

“ ‘She’s all right if you like her,’ said Mrs. Whit- 
taker, taking me in at her leisure. ‘You make up well,’ 
she said — on this one day when I’d taken off layer 
after layer! 

“ ‘So I’ve been told,’ I answered weakly. And 
when that w’as over I went downtown and told the 
friends who met me that I was just spending a little 
vacation in Chicago and living with friends — but before 
that vacation was over most of them believed my 
plural was an exaggeration. 

“I don’t think,” said Ina, swinging her Malacca, “a 
taxicab ever came into that little street till Jimmie 
and I moved in. The neighbors always were peeping 
at their windows. I’d try to get out in a rush, but 
Jimmie, darn him ! unfailingly would forget something 
he had to go back after, or stop on the front steps to 
hitch his garter. He was an adorable bridegroom, but 
a bum conspirator; his socks were forever slipping.” 

“But he lied like a gentleman and a journalist,” 
I defended, “and the world never knew you were mar- 
ried to him till he got ready to tell.” 

“Yes,” Ina assented, “he lied well and often, and 
so did I. Anything, I told him, at that time but the 
admission of our wedded state. ‘It’s better for my 
job,’ I said to Jimmie, ‘for me to be thought weak and 
wicked than moral and married.’ And apart from our 
romance, which heaven knows was wonderful despite 
the comic trimmings, there was an experiment to be 
made. I wanted to find out whether it is an actress’ 
marriage itself or the public’s consciousness of that 

The Double Life of Ina Claire 


marriage which makes the supposed difference to her 
so-called following. I wanted to find out whether 
marriage, like murder, will out in an actress’ work. 
And I learned. Nobody knows till you tell ’em, and 
then it makes no difference. It’s all superstition!” 
And she whirled her walking stick. 

“Then you would advise young ladies of your pro- 
fession to marry early?” 

“Early as they please ; but I shouldn’t advise them 
to marry drama critics.” 

“You mean it’s cruel to the critic?” 

“Nothing of the kind! It’s cruel to the actress; 
her husband can’t praise her in the public prints, and 
the other critics are apt to write lukewarmly of one 
who has married into their tribe. And not being in a 
position to praise her, an actress’ critic-husband is apt 
to go the other way — as Jimmie did when, after we’d 
been married more than a year, he one day dramatic- 
ally spilled the beans by writing for his paper: ‘When 
she married me Ina Claire told me she was an actress, 
but there is nothing in “The Gold Diggers” to prove 
she told the truth.’ I don’t think any critic ought to 
establish his reputation for justness at the expense of 
his wife.” 

“You didn’t foresee that situation?” 

“Of course I didn’t. Jimmie wasn’t a drama critic 
when I married him ; he was only an honest newspaper 


“Still” — she weighed it, smiling dearly — “the situ- 
ation has its advantages. Jimmie is never called Mr. 
Claire in my presence — nor am I called Mrs. Whittaker 
in his. We are the most publicly unmarried married 
couple that I know. We’ve got two names, two profes- 
sions, two salaries — but, thank God, only one home!” 



Jack and John Barrymore 

4P -TAP -TAP -TAP! on the Barrymore 
door at the Congress Hotel. 

No answer. 

Bang! Bang-bang! 

“Come in ! Why don’t you come in?” 
His back is to the door, which I close 
behind me. He is bent over a desk, laboriously writing 
with a short pencil on a yellow telegraph form. He 
speaks without looking up or turning: 

“Please open one bottle now — and see that the 
others are kept cool.” 

Have I unwittingly trapped the drama’s most 
illustrious young water-wagoner in the act of “falling 
off” at one a. m.? 

“I’ll take the same,” I say, risking it. 

“I beg your pardon, old man,” he says, half-rising, 
half-turning, and giving me the hand that does not 
hold the pencil — “I thought you were the Bevo.” 

And as solemnly as may be, two fairly sane men 
recite in unison the silly College (Inn) cry that was 
composed by Lou Houseman on the occasion of Jack 
Barrymore becoming John: 




Barry-more .” 



“I’m trying to answer this,” says Barry, and hands 
me a two-hundred-word telegram from E. H. Sothern 
and Winthrop Ames. 

They are just back from France with a message 
from Pershing calling on all good American actors to 
come over there and combat homesickness with enter- 
tainment. It is a chatty telegram, but imperative. 

Barry has gone this far with his answer: 

“As I have failed to pass for active service with 
the medical board, I’m delighted with the opportunity 
to help a little in any capacity. It’s a great chance 
for those of us who can’t be on the regular job, much 
as we might want to.” 

He adds: “Thanks very much,” and signs. 

“It’s a wonder,” says I, “the newspapers didn’t 
have a story of the medical examiners turning you 

“Not likely. I gave my own name — Blythe. I 
was born, like my father, Blythe ; and, if I die respect- 
able, I hope to be buried Blythe.” 

Tap-tap! and this time it is Mr. Bevo himself — 
four of him crowding the ice in a champagne cooler. 

Barry sips his beerless beer and talks the night 
away. Why not? It is Saturday night. He has lived 
all week only for those eight poignant performances 
of Peter Ibbetson that are the talk of as much of the 
town as knows great acting when faced by it. Why 

Once, maybe — but no longer is there any danger 
of the younger Barry inheriting the obituary written 
to his living father by the jestful, doting Wilton 
Lackaye : 

Jack and John Barrymore 


He talked beneath the stars, 

He slept beneath the sun; 

He lived a life of going-to-do 
And died with nothing done. 

Let the Bevo burble! Let Barry talk! 

“Why couldn’t you go soldiering?” 

He shows me a leg that is as fascinating as the 
sore toe in “Tom Sawyer.” 

“I can’t think of anything more honorable than a 
varicose leg,” I tell him. 

“Don’t!” he begs. “I got it standing with one foot 
on the rail.” 

This sounds like Jack Barrymore, like the old-time 
Jack of the after-night, like Jack of the rascal hours. 
And therefore does not last. He goes on: 

“Some Winter’s night in the years to come, when 
children sit on my lap and say, ‘Granddad, just what 
did you do in France to lick the Kaiser?’ I’ll throw 
out what’s left of my chest and say, ‘I put grease-paint 
on my nose and made faces.’ Bah!” 

I read to him from the Sothern-Ames telegram: 
“Our soldiers in France vitally need entertainment 
from home to combat homesickness and keep them fit. 
This need is emphasized by every important officer.” 

“But acting isn’t important — acting isn’t impor- 
tant anywhere,” he derides. 

“Your acting of Peter Ibbetson at the Princess is 
most important,” I say; “it brings back one’s ancient 
faith in the playhouse.” 

“That’s very nice and kind of you, old man, and 
I appreciate it. But what I mean is this: If there 
were no such thing as acting — if it were all wiped out 
— it wouldn’t make a particle of difference to the sort 
of people who really matter. Wait a minute. Listen! 



“The people who matter are the people with 
enough imagination to read a play for themselves and 
see it acted in their imagination much better than any 
group of mimes could hope to act it. Listen! 

“I’ve been an actor now for sixteen years. In 
that time I’ve given two good performances — just two: 
this one and the one in ‘Justice.’ And those two per- 
formances — the sum of sixteen years’ training and 
more or less work and ambition — don’t hold a candle 
to what you or I could imagine them to be just by 
sitting down and reading the plays and letting our 
imaginations run. Listen! 

“In all the theatergoing that I’ve done in sixteen 
years and more, I’ve seen just two performances that 
were better than you or I could stage in the theater 
of our imagination, with no physical props but the 
play-books. One of these performances was the Rus- 
sian ballet, ‘Petroucha,’ and the other was ‘Sumurun.’ 

“The acting of a good play is as useless and as 
gratuitous as the illustrating of a good novel. Yes, 
yes, I know you are going to hold up Du Maurier. But 
he happened to be a great novelist who could draw; 
just as Thackeray happened to be one who couldn’t. 
Listen ! 

“An actor’s performance, at best, is the way he 
happens to feel about a certain character. And why 
should the way an actor feels be important to persons 
capable of doing their own feeling? Why, the only 
really great performance I ever gave in my life was 
when I was stewed stiff and scared stiffer.” 

No longer does he have to cry “Listen!” 

“A friend of my grandmother’s,” he takes up with 
a slow smile, “gave me a set of lapis lazuli links and 
studs. Thev were lovely, but I was very broke and 

Jack and John Barrymore 


yearned to spend them. So I converted them into 
money, and left New York for Atlantic City, and lived 
for a few brief hours like a prince. 

“I had reached the end of my tiny roll. I had no 
return ticket. I wondered if my shoes would last to 
Philadelphia. I went into a cafe and ordered a dish 
of soup as pink as the wig of Peter Ibbetson. I can 
see that soup now, and smell it ; I think it was shrimp. 

“Well, I was dallying with this plate of pink soup 
and meditating on the drawbacks of a life of crime, 
when Mort Singer came into the place and sat down 
across the table from me. He asked me how I would 
like to go into a musical comedy. 

“I said yes. I would have said yes to Barnum and 
Bailey. I was critically broke. The last of the lapis 
lazuli was represented by a bowl of shrimp-pink soup. 

“ ‘How much would you ask to come to Chicago 
and play in a musical comedy?’ says Mr. Singer. 

“I got as far as the sibilant sound of the ‘s’ that 

starts the ‘seventy’ in ‘seventy-five dollars’ 

“ ‘S-s-s ,’ says I, and Mort Singer cuts in with : 

“ ‘Would four hundred a week do — for a start?’ 
“And the way in which I said it would do, and at 
the same time contrived not to fall into the pink soup, 
was the most magnificent piece of acting of which I 
have ever been guilty. He didn’t know it, but that 
was the best acting I was ever going to do for Mort 

“So that’s how you came to the Princess Theater 
and ‘A Stubborn Cinderella’?” 

“Yes, that’s how.” 

“And how does it feel to be back on the same 

stage, playing Peter and poetry and ?” 

“I’d never thought of it being the same stage,” 



he says with a startled grin. “I really hadn’t. I don’t 
seem to be the same fellow. Perhaps I’m not. It’s 
very much like a dream — or a part you’ve once played 
— or something like that.” 

“Who are you when you’re playing a big part? — 
playing Peter, say?” 

“Oh, I' suppose I’m a bit of Peter Ibbetson and a 
bit of Jack Barrymore. At least, I never utterly forget 
Jack Barrymore — or things he’s thought or done — or 
had done to him. It’s a curious mental state. I never 
can understand the actors who say they lose them- 
selves completely in a part. I don’t know what they 

are talking about. Yet ” 

“Yet what?” 

“Yet there’s a double identity that’s very real — to 
me — and, somehow, never quite the same. I mean the 
details are not always the same. I’ll try to explain : 

“I leave my dressing room to make Peter’s first 
entrance. I am Jack Barrymore — Jack Barrymore 
smoking a cigaret. But before I make the entrance I 
have thrown away the cigaret and become more Ibbet- 
son than Barrymore. By the time I’m visible to the 
audience I am Ibbetson, quite. 

“That is, you see — I hope to make this clear — on 
my way to the entrance I have passed imaginary 
flunkies and given up my hat and coat. Peter would 
have had a hat and coat — naturally; and would have 
given them up. And he’s a timid fellow. He gives up 
his imaginary hat and coat to these imaginary flunkies 
just as I, Jack Barrymore — and very timid then — once 
gave up my hat and coat to flunkies at a great ball 
given by Mrs. Astor.” 

“Do you always ?” 

“No,” he interrupts. “Of course I don’t always 
make Peter’s entrance with the memory of a bashful 

Jack and John Barrymore 


boy at Mrs. Astor’s ball. That would harden the 
memory — make it useless. You couldn’t keep on con- 
juring up the same thing. You have to have different 
things to get the same emotion. All this sounds hor- 
ribly queer, doesn’t it?” 

“Yes; but horribly believable, too. What do you 
think of — sometimes — when you are choking Colonel 
Ibbetson, preparatory to beaning him with the stick?” 

“At times I think of my own mother — putting me 
to bed — how sweet she was. Then I can put a lot of 
gusto into choking the old rascal. 

“One time — when my brother Lionel played him — 
I had him get some horrible, some cheap and nasty, 
perfume. A whiff of that and I could feel a fine frenzy. 
Not that I ever actually whiffed it. But the idea of 
this old stinker smelling like what he really was — you 
understand — or maybe you don’t at all — I’m afraid I’m 
a bum psychologist.” 

“It’s as plain as Peter feeling he can whistle one 
of the smells of old Paris.” 

“Yes — just.” 

“But,” he goes on, “you don’t need Gorgonzola to 
make you act when you’re acting with Lionel. Playing 
with him is like riding a bicycle behind a Rolls Royce 
— you make better time. One reason why I want to 
play more with him is that — well, hang it! you’ve got 
to be good to play with Lionel.” 

“What’s your next piece?” 

“I’m not quite certain yet. My favorite mascot 
manager has just offered me a play of three acts and 
a prologue and — this will make you laugh ! — two parts. 
But I’m afraid it’s too wonderful. Only two have been 
born who could fill that cast — Lieutenant Prince, the 
ventriloquist, and Jesus Christ.” 

The Duncan Sisters and Royalty 

HE world’s greatest Sister Act is lunch- 
ing with me — and now I am glad it’s at 
the Drake. Even if I have to subsist 
the next six days on hash and sinkers, 
this palatial place is the only place 
today for the Duncan darlings. They 
are fresh from London (not too fresh) and the King 
of Spain and the Prince of Wales. 

Of course I knew them when — but they don’t look 
it. Rosetta, with her Bond street walking stick and 
Mayfair turban and a dash of hunting pink in her 
waistcoat, and Vivien, a tailored trance by Redfern, are 
just too smart for anything less than royalty. But I’m 
not downcast; I’m glad the old spring suit has been 
recently asphyxiated; and I’m glad the little blonde 
Duncan Sisters still treat me as a friend and brother. 

Royalty is served with the fish — with, to be meticu- 
lous, the trout. But first, of course, comes melon — 
honeydew tortured with lemon ; and with the melon the 
stage is, in a manner of speaking, set. Which is to say 
that during melon we get away from Chicago’s Colonial 
Theater and their great hit there with Fred Stone in 
“Tip-Top,” and over to dear old London, where a couple 
of months back they landed for a vacation, and instead 
of getting it were seized by Mr. De Courville, the Mr. 
Dillingham and Mr. Ziegfeld too of the United King- 
dom, and on two days’ notice interjected into Mr. De 



Courville’s “Pins and Needles” revue, where their suc- 
cess was instant and enormous. 

That’s a story too; but so much of that sort of 
thing and so few kings and sons of kings come to me in 
my narrow life, that I fain would pass it by in favor of 
the fish — which is to say of royalty. 

They’ve finished now the story of their electrical 
engagement at the London Gaiety — we’ve gone right 
down to the yellow jacket of the perfect melon. The- 
ater; there’s been nothing but theater when the head- 
waiter himself bears us the silver dish whereon lie six 
game fishes done to a noble, if not indeed a royal, 

“A dish fit for a king !” says Rosetta — who is the 
comic one, we’ll now remember; who is the one that 
in “Tip-Top” bumps the base of her spine to achieve a 
skinned knee. Rosetta’s appraisal of the fish explodes 
the pent Vivien and then herself. 

“King!” says Vivien with the grand rising inflec- 
tion — “we met the King of Spain !” 

“And,” caps Rosetta (you should have heard her 
enrichment of that simple word), “the Prince of 
Wales !” 

“Both well, I hope,” I try to say — but it chokes 
and I am speechless while Rosetta runs on : 

“Why, we danced with the Prince every night — 
and how he can dance ! Everywhere he’d be asked out 
he’d say to his hostess, or get the word there, ‘You must 
have the Duncan Sisters!’ ” 

“But we must,” cries Vivien, “tell Mr. Stevens how 
we met the King of Spain !” And Rosetta tries to : 
“Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt called up from her 
London house that she was giving a reception to the 
King of Spain and that we must come — and — and meet 
the Prince of Wales. You see ” 

The Duncan Sisters and Royalty 


“You see Mrs. Vanderbilt didn’t know,” Vivien 
relays, “that we’d met the Prince the night before, and 
that that was why she was now asking us.” 

‘ ‘ It amounted to a royal command, our invitation 
did,” Rosetta takes up ; “only of course you can’t ‘com- 
mand’ American girls; it isn’t done. But when the 
Prince of Wales lets any hostess know there’s anybody 
he’d like especially to see, it’s a cinch that person will 
be asked to the party. You see how it was?” 


“Only Mrs. Vanderbilt didn’t know that we’d met 
the Prince the night before at Major Fitzgerald’s,” 
Vivien laughed. 

“You really should have been there at the Major’s,” 
Rosetta sweetly says to me. “You should have seen the 
Prince sitting on the floor while we sang our songs at 
the piano. He always sits on the floor when we sing.” 

“He played the drums with the jazz band before 
the night was over,” Vivien sighs. Her sister goes her 
one better: 

“And he sang with us — sat on the floor and har- 
monized. He’s a — he’s a regular prince, that prince is.” 

“How’d ha sing?” 

“So well I told him he could join our act,” says 

“What did he say to that?” 

“Asked now much we’d give him. When I said 
two hundred pounds the Prince said, ‘Oh, that’s more 
than I ever got!’ Then he said, ‘I say, Miss Rosetta, 
what was that third song you and your sister sang?’ 
And when I told him it was ‘Feather Your Nest,’ he 
shook his handsome head and fingered his tie — he’s 
always fingering his collar and tie — and said : 

“ ‘No, no, that’s one of our old songs ; that’s ‘Me 



and My Gal’ — I’ve known that song two years; you 
can’t fool me!’ ” 

“And he was right; it’s a swipe,” nods Vivien. 
“The Prince is wise.” 

“Wise? — he’s just like an actor. And he knows 
it!” glees Rosetta. “The Prince said to me, and these 
are his very words: 

“ ‘My life’s a vaudeville show ; I’m booked up for 
every day in the week.’ And then he said : 

“ ‘They princed me so much in Americah that I 
wanted to bark.” 

“He’s a Prince Charming,” Vivien murmurs. “His 
favorite phrase is ‘That’s so sweet of you.’ And he's 
witty. He ran to the band as we left the Major’s 
and asked the band boys to play ‘Me and My Gal.’ And 
the Prince himself played the drums, exultingly, as 
much as to say, ‘There’s our tune from which you 
swiped your tune!’ That’s the way he drummed us 

“And next night we met him all over again,” 
thrills Rosetta. “You should have seen that scene of 
Mrs. Vanderbilt’s reception to King Alfonso — diamonds 
even in the buckle straps of their shoes — every man 
loaded with decorations except, of course, the American 
polo players. The Duncan Sisters’ family gems didn’t 
go very far in that gathering.” 

“I don’t think you needed any diamonds — with the 
Prince running to meet you as he did,” Vivien puts in 

“As Mrs. Vanderbilt stepped to greet us we saw 
the Prince above, on a landing. You should have seen 
her amazement,” says Rosetta wickedly, “when he 
rushed off the landing like a shot and came up to us 

The Duncan Sisters and Royalty 


and said, ‘I’m so glad to see you’re heah — so glad!’ — 
and grabbed me and danced right off.” 

‘‘Does he talk while he dances?” 

“I should say ! The first thing he said to me was, 
‘Well, Miss Rosetta, I think I’ll accept that position 
you offered me.’ ” 

“And you must tell Mr. Stevens,” Vivien warns, 
“what that man — what that strange man” — she is 
deeply mysterious — “said to you after you’d danced 
with the Prince.” 

“I was sitting there,” Rosetta obeys, “when a dark 
distinguished foreign-looking man leaned over me and 

“ ‘I hear you make a hit at the Gaiety. I’m sorry 
I can’t see you, but I leave tomorrow.’ 

“ ‘Oh, I know who you are,’ I said, ‘you’re the King 
of Spain.’ 

“‘You know me?’ And he seemed delighted. ‘I 
want to meet your sister,’ he said.” 

“Yes,” Vivien lamented, “and the Duke of Man- 
chester had told me in a whisper that I must be sure 
and make a little bob, which is a curtsy, when I was 
presented to the King. But I was so scared when he 
said, ‘Miss Duncan, I want to present you to the King 
of Spain,’ that I said, ‘How’d do, King?’ and forgot to 
make a bob. Five minutes later I remembered it and 
was bobbing all over the place.” 

“Did you sing — this night?” 

“At the request of the Prince,” says Rosetta. 
"And what do you think he asked for? ‘Feather Your 
Nest.’ And right there, as everywhere else, he sat on 
the floor by the piano while we harmonized. He’s the 
sweetest boy over there. And shimmy ! — you ought to 



see the Prince of Wales shimmy. Vivien taught him 
how to do the Chicago — you know that one.” 

“I’d taught it to one of his friends” — and Vivien 
names a nobleman whose title escapes me. “So the 
Prince asked me, fixing his tie — he’s always fixing his 
tie, he wears down three collars at every dance — ‘Won’t 
you teach me to do the Chicago?’ and of course I did. 

. . . I was awfully sorry he couldn’t go with us for 
ham and eggs.” 

“He said he’d used up all his collars,” Vivien 
laughs. “You see, Lord Delmaney, the polo player, had 
said, ‘You must all come up to my place and have ham 
and eggs !’ — at three in the morning. And the King of 
Spain and several of us went; and everybody but the 
King cooked or helped — he just supervised. He said 
to me so drolly : 

“ ‘Little would your American friends believe that 
at three o’clock in the morning you are eating ham and 
eggs with a King. The Americans,’ he laughed, ‘think 
that royalty is stiff. They don’t know us. We like a 
good time. We’re human.’ ” 

“Human? I should say!” says Rosetta. “At four 
o’clock that morning the King of Spain was out on the 
street with the rest of us, hunting for a taxi. When he 
said good-by to the Duke, ‘Manchester, when you come 
to Madrid you must look me up,’ he said. And then I 
said, in the hoarse baby voice I use in our act: 

“ ‘Well, King, when you come to America, just look 
me up’ — and they loved it.” 

“He got into the common taxi with us, the King 
did,” says Vivien. 

“Yes,” says funny Rosetta, “and little did that 
driver dream he was driving a couple of Duncan Sis- 
ters and a King!” 

Mr. Craven’s Lighted 
First Night 

RANK CRAVEN puffed at his pipe, and 
I puffed at mine. There was a thick 
but not uncomfortable silence in his 
chamber at the Drake, for Mr. Craven 
and I are old friends. We were old 
friends years before he wrote “The 
First Year” and got himself acclaimed an American 
Dramatist ; in fact, I knew Frank Craven when he was 
only a playwright. 

“What’ re we going to talk about?” said he. 

“Why not have an actorview about writing plays?” 
said I. 

“I recently gave a lecture on that subject in Cleve- 
land — ‘On Writing Plays,’ my lecture was called,” said 
Mr. Craven, without any great pride in his voice. “It 
was,” he added a trifle gloomily, “a total loss. In fact, 
it cost me sixteen dollars.” 

“Did you hire a band?” 

“No, I was under no expense at the theater, beyond 
getting my suit pressed. The lecture was given under 
the auspices of a Cleveland newspaper that was run- 
ning a playwriting contest. I spent the sixteen on 
books — on books on playwriting. I wanted to be right. 
I sat up all night reading the books. And the more I 
read the more discouraged I go't. I found I’d been 
writing plays all wrong. I found I didn’t know the first 
real principle of playwriting.” 

“What did you tell your lecture audience?” 

“What could I tell ’em but the truth? There was 



no other way. I told ’em I’d found my own ideas to be 
all wrong according to all the books, and I told ’em I 
couldn’t remember what I’d read in the books — I’m not 
so quick on the memory as I used to be when I was a 
young fellow in stock. I told ’em the truth — that is, 
part of it.” 

“Which part did you leave out?” 

“I left out the real thing. They didn’t want the 
real thing. I left out the very important but unro- 
mantic financial part. I talked only of my Art. I 
didn’t tell ’em how my greatest problem in writing The 
First Year’ had been to keep the darned thing in two 
sets of scenery. Scenery costs money, and a playwright 
in speaking of his Art is not supposed to think of 

“How’d the lecture go, Frank?” 

“It might have been worse — very little — and it 
might have been better — very much. You see, there 
was a woman in the first row taking notes. And every 
time her pencil’d begin to fly I’d think to myself, ‘What 
did I say then?’ So between thinking back and trying 
to think ahead I didn’t make much progress.” 

“Did you ever succeed in writing a play for one set 
of scenery?” 

“Yes — finally — with ‘Spite Corner.’ There’s only 
one set in that now. But I didn’t waste any money. 
The two sets we used for the out-of-town try-out were 
old stuff. Of course, Johnny Golden gave me carte 
blanche — but, somehow, I can’t bear to spend even a 
manager’s money till I know whether people wanted the 
play. We took an old interior set, and to make it look 
like a country dressmaking shop w r e put shelves on the 
walls and loaded ’em with paper boxes and notions. 
And then, after that try-out, we walked out of town, 
leaving the whole ‘production’ in the little local thea- 

Mr. Craven’s Lighted First Night 77 

ter. We had to build new stuff for New York anyhow, 
and it was cheaper to leave the old stuff where it was.” 
“You are a frugal author!” 

“ ‘Too Many Cooks’ made money on its try-out,” 
he answered, not unproudly; “‘The First Year’ went 
into New York with money to the good, and so did 
‘Spite Corner.’ Well,” he went on shrewdly, “an author 
shouldn’t demand much till he finds out what he’s writ- 
ten. All plays look great when they’re fresh from the 
typist. But I’ve always been willing to take any old 
junk to find out if people like the play. As Johnny 
Golden says, ‘You can always get scenery!’ ” 

“Frank,” I said, “it would be hard to tell from 
your plays whether you are a sentimentalist or a — 
No, I can’t say showman; there’s too much human 
humor in ‘The First Year.’ ” 

“I think people love to cry in the theater ; I know 
I do,” he answered without shame. “I cry when I see a 
beautifully acted comedy scene — that’s the way it gets 
me. It’s the interweave of sentiment and comedy that 
I like, the alternating currents. You can safely say 
that I’m for sentiment on the stage. Sentiment is not 
only good business, but we need it in our lives. Do you 
remember, Ashton, when we used to go to the ball 
games together?” 

“Five times a week, some weeks. Sure!” 

And Frank Craven talked and took me back to 
some of those ball games and some of the men that went 
along with us — one of them dead now, two of them 
married. He recalled the day he bought the peanuts 
and I the cushions, because, he said, my own upholstery 
was none of the best ; and the day they played fourteen 
innings to make a score of one to nothing, and we 
matched for the taxi home. He just talked and brought 



back the old afternoons so summerly that my mouth 
and eyes watered. 

And then he said, “That’s sentiment.” And then 
he said, “Sentiment is remembering.” And we let it go 
at that. 

“When are you going to write your autobiog- 

“There’s a book,” he quickly answered, “that’ll 
never be written. Imagine me describing the towns 
I played in as a youth — Council Bluffs, Cedar Rapids — 
and calling them by their right names. Not me!” 

“Still, I don’t see why you should be the only actor 
who hasn’t written a book about himself. It looks just 
a little ostentatious.” 

“My past is too — too scattering for the fine direct 
drive of autobiography. I’ve done everything, you 
know, but moving pictures.” 


“Yes ; but not extensively.” 

“How extensively?” 

“Well, I’m kind of thin as a Shakespearean actor. 
It’s hereditary. My mother, Ella Mayer, was at one 
time understudy for Eliza Weatherby, who was Mrs. 
Nat Goodwin and frequently ill. And I used to hear 
mother tell what the German musical director of the 
troupe said to her the first time she played the part: 
‘You play the part all right, Miss Mayer. I don’t know 
anybody except Mrs. Goodwin what could play the part 
so goot as you. Of course, though, you lack the dewel- 
opments.’ And that’s the way it is with me in Shake- 
speare, I lack the dewelopments — I guess the only part 
I’d really fit in Shakespeare would be the Apothecary 
in ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ ” 

“Working for a morning paper, Frank, I usually 
have to leave the theater before the Apothecary comes 
on. I forget what he looks like.” 

Mr. Craven’s Lighted First Night 


“He looks lean and poisoned. My father played 
the part with Mary Anderson, and he always kept with 
pride a notice by some William Winter of the time, who 
had written: ‘And Mr. John T. Craven’s Apothecary 
was a gem — it was so nice and thin.’ ” 

“Actors,” I observed, “seem to make the best par- 
ents for actors. When a business man’s son tells him 
he wants to go on the stage his father, nine times out 
of ten, thinks he’s crazy.” 

“Nine times out of ten he is,” said Craven. “But 
you’ll find a lot of actors who selected the proper 
parents — the Drews, Barrymores, Byron, Eddinger, 
Jimmy Gleason, Harry Brown. We’re going to start a 
club called Sons of Actors — sounds sort of profane, 
doesn’t it? There must be fifty of ’em in the Lambs. 
And down at Great Neck, where I live, we’re looking 
out for tomorrow. Wynne, Hazard, Santley, Truex and 
I have all got offspring who’ll take care of the future 
of the American stage. And Ring Lardner’s got a 
backyardful. He’s got to raise three to our one to sup- 
ply our children with plays.” 

“Frank, has your wife ever got over the first time 
you played one of your own unstuffed heroes here and 
all the critics commented on your unbeautifulness.?” 
“She’s either outgrown her indignation or got 
used to me,” he smiled. “Besides, she’s a good business 
woman and realizes that homeliness is part of my stock- 
in-trade. I guess she also figures that when you have 
my kind of face nobody is worrying about how old you 
are or look — least of all me ! Being timeproof is almost 
as good as being beautiful.” 

“And now tell me,” I asked, in the interests of the 
art of alcoholic impersonation, “can a man play a 
drunken scene when he’s ?” 



“I’ve never been that way while playing one,” he 
anticipated. “But I shouldn’t think so. When a man’s 
‘lit’ he thinks he’s the funniest thing on earth. I know 
I do. I always want to be funny when I’ve had one too 
many, and then I’m about as comical as a cremation. 
I’ve only once been in that self-confident condition on 
the stage. And I hasten to add that I was not acting 
at the time. It was at the Sunday night invitation 
dress rehearsal opening of ‘Spite Corner,’ and I got a 
tiny bun on. Well, I’d done the best I could writing the 
darned thing ; it didn’t seem to belong to me any more 
— it belonged to the public, if they wanted it. Anyway, 
my work was done, and I turned everything over to the 
stage manager and then went out and took a few 
Scotches and then a few more. But I got the greatest 
set of notices from the New York critics that you ever 

“On the play?” 

“On the play, nothing ! On my speech.” 

“What’d you say?” 

“To understand just what I said, you should be 
acquainted with ‘The Old Soak.’ There’s a character in 
that delightful comedy called ‘Al,’ and he’s a boot- 
legger, and the catch-line of the piece is, ‘Al’s here!’ 

“Well,” he chuckled, “when the applause began 
and somebody cried ‘Author !’ I tried to beat it out of 
the theater, with my derby hat on and my cigar in my 
mouth, and my tiny bun beaming all over me. But 
somebody grabbed me and ran me down the aisle and 
onto the stage. And all I said to the audience — all I 
could say — was: 

“ ‘Ladies and gemmen : Al’s been here.’ 

“And you never read such thrilling notices as that 
speech got.” 

Miss and Mrs. Janis 

N the way to the Janis suite in the Con- 
gress — G 22-24-26-28, and, for all I 
know, 30-32-34-36 — I met a wise old 
theatrical producer, who told me there 
were just two subjects of unfailing 
interest to theatergoers of today — 
Love and Liquor. 

I was on the way to talk Love to, or at least with, 
Elsie, the official sweetheart of the A. E. F. (not to 
mention the I. 0. 0. F., the B. P. 0. E. and the A. F. L.) , 
and nevertheless and notwithstanding still an unwedded 
bachelor girl. Which is to say that, Miss Elsie willing, 
I was going to commit to memory her answer to the 
impertinent question, Why don’t you marry? 

And — well — the first dear thing that was said was 
said by Mrs. Janis when she said: “It takes three- 
quarters of an hour to get tea up — won’t you have a 
tiny drop of old brandy?” 

Never mind my scintillant reply, with which our 
story is not concerned. I only wanted to show that 
there must have been something in what the manager 
said, for in a jiffy we were neck-deep in the second 
of his “just two subjects” — and with the first ever 
ready to spring. 

“It used to be, when a man admired a girl and 
wanted to show it,” said Elsie — “it used to be flowers. 
But now it’s a bottle of Gordon gin.” 



“As a matter of fact,” she went on, “I was noto- 
riously the drinkless wonder of my age. I didn’t like 
the stuff. And it was my pride to be the only one at 
a party who didn’t. Just as it would now be my pride 
to be the only one at a party to sit up with a schooner 
of Scotch. Prohibition makes you perverse.” 

“What under the sun did we have to talk about 
before Prohibition?” Mrs. Janis helpfully asked. 

“Well, we didn’t talk about drink, for one thing,” 
said Elsie. “But now! Go to a luncheon and it starts 
with one of two sentences : ‘Pm sorry I can’t give you 
cocktails’ ; or, ‘These are made from a little bottle my 
grandfather left.’ ” 

“The rich don’t really suffer for it,” I put in. 

“Yes, and that,” said Elsie, “is one of the reasons 
Pm ag’in’ Prohibition. There are fellows in our Gang 
at the Illinois who’d fondly love to park their shoes 
against a rail after the show and throw down a couple 
of long red ones with very low white collars. I got 
to feeling for and with the fellows ‘over there.’ They 
used to say, ‘Those pussyfooters’ll never be able to 
put it over; they can’t get away with our beer and 
wine.’ Wise guys they were, and I was a wise guy 
with ’em!” 

“It breaks Elsie’s heart,” said her mamma, “when 
she thinks what our Prohibition has done to poor 

“Think of it yourself,” Elsie said. “There was 
France, hard up, bled, wounded and all ready to step 
on her glorious grapes and crush them into wine for 
us, her ally. There were her treasured champagnes all 
ready to be shipped. When — bing! blah! Prohibition!” 

This was no moment to talk marriage. But we 
could always talk Gang, and we did. 

Miss and Mrs. Janis 


“Irving Berlin advised me one day: ‘Take my 

tip, Elsie, and don’t put your Gang in uniforms.’ 

“I was just back — from you know w r hat. I’d 
stepped over dead bodies, to sing and prance for the 
fellows who were still going. And here at home I’d 
been in the hospital and seen some of the permanent 
wrecks — our fellows, once so tough and straight. ‘Irv,’ 
I said, ‘if America don’t want to see uniforms now, I 
don’t want to see America again ever.’ I was that 
serious ! I felt that if America could face those fellows 
with their chevrons and not feel something — well, then 
I’d leave America flat. Horrible threat!” 

“But she’s never told you,” Mrs. Janis supplied, 
“the offers she had for big non-soldier shows.” 

“And isn’t going to tell him,” Elsie said. “Only 
this — when Mr. Dillingham made his magnificent pro- 
posal I said, ‘No, I can’t. Charlie,’ I said, ‘I can’t go 
out on the stage with a lot of nude women shaking their 
shimmies ; I’d cry all over the place. There’s something 
— call it “spiritual” if you want to — that I’ve got to get 
out of my system.’ And I told him about this show, 
which I’d written — written in bed, like Mark Twain (I 
mean the bed) — and how little it would cost, because 
that was the way we wanted it. And he said I was 
crazy anyway and crazier since the war. But to go 
ahead, which I did ; and he never came to rehearsals — 
and when it was all done he said it was the only show 
he’d ever seen he didn’t want to cut somewhere.” 

“Why didn’t you show him the pay roll?” I brightly 

“Oh, that was proof. I’d promised the boys, every 
one, fifty bucks a week, rain or shine, and warned them 
all that I didn’t want to make a bad actor out of any 
man who had a good job. We’ve done some grading 



and paving since then, since the show made good. Now 
nobody gets less than sixty-five.” 

“The one who says ‘It’s all wrong!’ is worth sev- 
enty at least.” 

“Don’t worry about him ; he’s all right,” said Elsie 
proudly. “He was chauffing a car for Owen Moore 
when he came to me. Said his brother had danced on 
a table with me in France. I told him to send his 
brother around. And that night the stage manager 
wanted to know how many Ryans I’d ordered. I told 
him one. He said two’d shown up for jobs. ‘I can 
sing a little tenor, and, anyway, I’d like to stick with 
the Gang,’ said this Mr. Ryan, the chauffeur, your 
Tt’s-all-wrong’ man ; and he stuck. Sometimes,” Elsie 
added, “they dropped from heaven and sometimes I 
picked them up. 

“For instance — I wanted a blonde, a female woman 
blonde with looks and style and — Well, you know the 
regular chorus or show girl type wouldn’t do for the 
Gang ; might stir civil war ; imagine turning loose half- 
a-dozen seasoned chorus girls among those thirty-six 
he men! Chorus girls, of course, never look at any- 
thing less than the regular leading man in the regular 
theatrical company — and usually he’s grabbed quick by 
the leading lady. But three dozen Heroes! It would 
have been much too much. The flizzies would have 
raised a riot. 

“But, as I was or w r asn’t telling you — I was talk- 
ing to Eva Le Gallienne in a hotel when along passed a 
stunning blonde, just what my heart had ordered. 
‘Who’s that?’ I asked Eve, -who had bow T ed to her. 

“ ‘That,’ said Eve, ‘is Miss Overhault — one of the 
Long Island Overhaults.’ 

“ ‘Ask her if she wants to go on the stage.’ 

“ ‘What!’ 

Miss and Mrs. Janis 


“ ‘ Ask her/ 

“And Eve did. And she did. Said she’d love it. 

“ ‘When can you join?’ I asked her. 

“ ‘In an hour — I’ve got a tea. But I can break the 
tea if an hour’s too long.’ 

“ ‘What about your folks?’ 

“ ‘There’s only a sister. I’ll telephone.’ 

“And she came to rehearsal that night, and stuck, 
and became and is, like the rest of us, a bum !” 

Elsie was in great spirits. And Elsie’s mamma had 
gone into 24 or 32. 

“I don’t want to be a pest,” I told Elsie, “but when 
are you, or why aren’t you, going to marry!” 

“Never!” she said, with more to come — I could 
feel it, and I held my peace. “I’ve gone this way so 
long, so far, that I’ve grown a pretty healthy sense of 
humor. Thanks to that, it doesn’t require marriage to 
make me laugh or cry at this weird old world. I’ve got 
a sense of humor, let’s say, but, what’s more, I’ve got 
the most marvelous companion in the world in my 

“That then’s the answer to your bachelorhood — 

“Yes; but it must not be unfairly stated. Mother 
— at least I — have a reputation of being the most care- 
fully chaperoned girl on any stage. You’d think, from 
what you hear, that mother camps on a stool in the 
back parlor and asks every youth who tries to hold 
my hand what his intentions are! Why, do you know 
who the fellows ask for when the party is a foursome 
and we need another girl?” 

“That exquisite ‘bum,’ Miss Overhault?” 

“No; that exquisite ‘bum,’ Mrs. Janis. And when 
we get out, do you know who it is that has to be quieted 



down and said to: ‘This is supposed to be a quiet 

party’? — do you know who?” 

‘‘Elsie Jams’ mamma,” I answered. 

“And right you are !” said mamma’s Elsie. 

“Lemme tell you,” she raced. “There’s never a 
wild place in Paris or New York or Chicago that I 
wanted to see that my mother wouldn’t go along with 
me to see it. There never was a dump so tough my 
mother wouldn’t go to it with me, if I wanted to go. 
If my tastes don’t happen to be chronically dumpish, 
that’s not mother’s fault. But lemme tell you that she’s 
there for any time or place. If I want to sip a jazzbo 
cocktail or a shimmy fizz, mother’ll go with me to the 
awful cave where they’re brewed and we’ll sip ’em 
together. She’ll do anything I ever wanted to do — and 

“And that’s only a tiny side of her companionship. 
She’s there for anything that happens to me. If I stub 
my toe and start to fall — well, I don’t land on a tack, 
but on mother. Show me a man like mother and I'll 
be willing to hear people say, ‘Yes, he belongs to Janis 
and Janis belongs to him.' But they aren’t made. 
And I’ve looked. And I — like Henry George — I’m for 
men, God love ’em ! But when I gaze around a lunch- 
eon at my girl friends that used to be girls, and see 
most of them divorced or getting divorces, and hear 
them say with the salad — it always comes with the 
salad — ‘Well, Elsie, here’s another luncheon and you’re 
still a spinster!’ — I can’t help but notice that their 
note, which was one time one of pity, is now the note of 
envy. I tell you I’m glad of the privilege, the beauty, 
the hell-roaring fine companionship that comes of 
batching it along with mother.” 

Mr. Collier Under Oath 

OR eighteen years, with occasional in- 
terludes for work, I had been attempt- 
ing to interview Mr. Collier. 

But somebody had always upset 
my plans — objected, or rejected, or 
regretted. And that somebody always 
Haa ueen Mr. Collier. 

In time — perhaps another eighteen years — I 
should have been convinced that William Collier did 
not want to be interviewed by me. And I daresay I’d 
have gone to my grave loving him for it. 

But what are eighteen years in such extensive 
lifetimes as Collier’s and mine! Why jump at con- 
clusions ? 

So the other day I got an idea and ran straight to 
him with it. I was introduced into his dressing-room 
at the Cort without prelude or warning. 

“Mr. Collier,” I said, “I have an idea.” 

He did not say, “You surprise me.” He was 
polite. He said, “Yes?” with a quick-rising inflection; 
and, thus encouraged, I went on to outline it: 

“In this farce, ‘Nothing But the Truth,’ you are 
obliged to tell nothing but the truth for a period of 
twenty-four hours. Now, will you, in an interview, 
tell me nothing but the truth, so help you, for twenty- 
four minutes?” 

“Sure!” said Collier, and the appointment was 
made for the morrcw. You see, there had been noth- 



ing permanent in Mr. Collier’s disrelish of an inter- 
view with me. 

We sat at a table that had a marine exposure, in 
the cafe of the Edgewater Beach Hotel. We ordered 
two strong cups of black coffee — large ones — and we 
synchronized our watches. They lacked twenty-five 
minutes of the hour of six. 

What he said during the next sixty seconds does 
not matter. He could breathe and lie freely then ; and 
I daresay he did ; I hope he did. It was on the dot of 
5:36 when William Collier, notoriously the world’s 
coolest comedian, said: 


“Did you tell your wife and child?” I shot. 


“Did they advise you?” 

“My wife said, ‘Be careful what you say.’ I told 
her I couldn’t be, I had to tell the truth. Buster said, 
‘Are you worrying about what you’re going to answer?’ 
I said, ‘No; I’m worrying about what he’s going 
to ask.’ 

“Mr. Collier, did you read Van Loan’s actor story 
in a recent Saturday Evening Post, ‘The Great and 
Only Leslie’?” 

“No; but I know Charlie Van Loan; he’s the 
best ” 

“I know; you needn’t perjure yourself in favor of 
Van. But in this very superior yarn of his there’s a 
famous hero of the movies who once barnstormed in a 
very humble capacity with a road star of the one- 
night stand-up. This ham star was Leslie’s idea of 
what an actor should be; and Leslie was the ham’s 
idea of what an actor should not be.” 

I outlined the story for Collier, bringing up at the 

Mr. Collier Under Oath 


situation where the great and only Leslie, in the very 
flower of his glory, is confronted by the ham — now an 
extra man in the movie concern where Leslie’s slightest 
smile is worth its weight in radium. The ham’s 
unchanged contempt for Leslie dangerously convinces 
the great and only of his own utter unworth as artist 
or human being. 

“Has there ever been in your life,” I asked Collier, 
“one who tore you down from high places as this ham 
tore down the great and only Leslie? One who could 
say to you, ‘You are rotten,’ with such deadly earnest- 
ness as to reduce you to a state of rottenness?” 

“Who told you about my Uncle Ned and me?” 
cried Collier. 

It was the first time that ever I had heard his 
chill, even voice cry anything ; the first time I had seen 
any but comic amazement expressed in his serene, 
implastic face. 

“Nobody told me,” I answered truthfully. “Van’s 
story suggested ” 

“But you’re not under oath, and I am,” he said, 
incredulously. “I had an uncle that measured me up 
just as this ham measured Leslie. I wanted to punch 
him every time I saw him coming. I can see him now, 
sitting in an aisle seat in the front row, with plenty of 
room for his lame leg — telling me just by his look how 
rotten I am. 

“I’ll never forget the day my mother — God rest 
her soul! — said the sweetest words I’ve ever heard. 
‘Your Uncle Ned is dead,’ she said. And she told me 
afterward that there was an expression on my face 
that she’d never seen there before — it was almost 

“Everything I ever did was rotten to Uncle Ned. 



I remember once I pitched the deciding ball game for 
a public school league championship, and won it. 

“ ‘I felt sorry for you to-day,’ says Uncle Ned. 

“ ‘Because I won the pennant?’ says I. 

“ ‘No ; because you gave that base on balls,’ says 
Uncle Ned. 

“He had a horrible laugh that cut me like a knife. 
You know the kind of laugh I mean — it wasn’t on the 
level. I always had a fine company — but was rotten 
myself. Every flivver was a fine play which I didn’t 
know how to act.” 

“Was your Uncle Ned always wrong?” 

“No! You can forgive a man — sometimes — who’s 
always wrong. But he was always right. If I said a 
thousand dollars, he said nine hundred and eighty. If 
I said, ‘Some time in May,’ he said, ‘No; it was June 
twelfth,’ and was right. He was an encyclopaedia of 
useless information. He had my goat. When I’d try a 
new line or bit of stage business that wouldn’t get 
over, my wife used to say, ‘Cut it out; it’s an Uncle 
Ned.’ . . . It’s uncanny, your landing on him.” 

“Then let’s talk of happier things. Who, in your 
opinion — barring nobody — is the greatest living 

“Chaplin,” said Collier, quick as a wink. 


“Because he can do without a word what every 
other comedian in the world can do only with words — 
because he can do that and then something more. 
He’s a great actor, great artist, great stage director 
and great comedian. He’s got it here.” Mr. Collier 
touched his brow. 

“Who’s Chaplin’s favorite comedian?” 

“Well ... of course. But in fact I was waiting 

Mr. Collier Under Oath 


for it. I was afraid you’d forget that one. The answer 
to that question is ‘Collier.’ ” 

“Of all the funny little things of your own that 
you have uttered on and off the stage, Mr. Collier, 
which do you consider the funniest, the most successful 
from the viewpoint of a comedian?” 

“The ‘I’ve Something to Say to You’ scene that I 
first did at Weber and Fields’. That’s the funniest com- 
bination of words and knowledge I ever composed. It 
won’t be hard to write if you use ditto marks.” 

It wasn’t. This is Collier’s masterpiece just as it 
ran on the notes : 

Me : Mary, I’ve something to say to you. 

She: You’ve 

a u 

“ “ me? 

Me: Yes, I’ve 

ft a 

“ “ you. 


Something “ 

“ “ me? 


u u 

“ “ you. 


To “ “ me? 



“ “ you ! 


Say “ me? 


“ “ you! 


To me? 


“ you! 





But no type may tell you how funny he was utter- 
ing it — a duologue to himself, by himself, for himself. 

He chuckled when it was in the record. “That 
killed just four minutes,” he chuckled. “Would you like 
to have a list of the parts I’ve played during and since 
the seven years I was with Augustin Daly?” 

“This isn’t your obituary.” 

“I feel that way.” 

“What do you enjoy most when you go to the 
other fellow’s theater?” 





“My own. I like serious, substantial, emotional 
plays. When they’re good they get me right in the 
eyes. I’m ashamed to sit in a box — at any kind of a 
show. I’ve wept at comedies, too.” 

“Who are the harshest dramatic critics?” 

“Actors. No paper could print what actors say.” 
“Are you critical?” 

“Yes. I’ve yet to see a good part that wasn’t bet- 
ter than its actor. I’ve never seen an actor as good as 
a good part.” 

“Then good parts don’t make good actors?” 

“If they did Corse Peyton would be the greatest 
actor in the world — he’s played ’em all. If they did 
everybody would be playing Hamlet — that’s a pretty 
good part.” 

“Ever fail ignominously in a part — utterly licked 
by it?” 

“Yes — in ‘Are You My Father?’ Uncle Ned 
should have seen me in that.” 

“Do you believe in reincarnation?” 

“Well, one night I thought my Uncle Ned had 
come back as you.” 


“Yes. One night when I was playing ‘The Man 
From Mexico’ in San Francisco — the funniest piece I 
ever had — more than a laugh a minute — right in 
the funniest part of it you brought into a stage 
box Billy Barnes and Colonel Kowolsky, the famous 
sleepers — who dozed straight off and snored — and the 
audience laughed as I never heard an audience laugh 
before — but not at the show.” 

Perhaps that was one of the reasons why it took 

Mr. Collier Under Oath 


me eighteen years to have this interview with Mr. 
Collier. But I did not press the question. I asked him 
if he had ever heard a good curtain speech delivered 
by an actor. He said : 


“Who made it?” 

“I did.” 

“Who wrote it?” 

“I did.” 


“Well, I had a little help.” 


“I don’t know.” 

“You are under oath!” 

“That’s the truth. It was on the opening night of 
‘The Dictator’ in London. In the cast were Jack 
Barrymore, Eddie Abies, George Nash and Marie Doro. 
In a box were Charlie Frohman, Gillette and Barrie. 
“ ‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ I said. 

“And there was a noise upstairs and a man in the 
gallery cried in its direction, ‘Oh, shut up !’ 

“ ‘Very well,’ I said, ‘I will.’ It was the hit of 
my life.” 

“Who’s the biggest man in the American theater?” 
“Georgie Cohan.” 


“Well, he’s not the best actor or author or com- 
poser or dancer or playwright, but he can dance better 
than any other author, write better than any other 
actor, compose better than any other manager and 
manage better than any other playwright — and that 
makes him a very great man.” 

“Who’s the most successful failure on the native 

“We haven’t had one big enough to talk about since 



Mansfield died — which shows the native theater is 
pretty shy of real shining marks.” 

“What’s the worst feature of American manage- 

“Mushroom managers making mushroom stars of 
little nobodies who make an overnight hit playing their 
own little personalities. It’s an injustice to the well- 
trained actor who knows his business.” 

“Are you a well-trained actor?” 

“I am. And I can prove it. But you won’t let me 
give you a list of the parts I’ve played since I started 
as a call boy at Daly’s.” 

“How many are there? It’s getting pretty close 
to 6 o’clock.” 

“I’ve never counted. But I don’t think there’s 
more than a thousand.” 

“Do you believe in the art of elimination?” 

“I believe in it in all arts — when you are not under 

“What would you advise a young actor to elimi- 
nate from his work? What are the seven deadly sins 
in acting?” 

“I can name you seventeen. There’s the Goodwin 
Stammer, the Maude Adams Choke, the Warfield Trem- 
olo, the Louis Mann Pause, the Ethel Barrymore Sob, 

the Foy Spray, the Gillette Repetition, the ” 

“That’s seven. Time’s short.” 

“I know — but I’ve got fifty seconds yet. I was 
only going to add the Collier Poker Face.” 

“Who’s the unfunniest humorist writing for the 
American stage?” 

“Percy Mackaye.” 

“Who produces the greatest number of successful 
bad plays?” 

“A1 Woods. Hope he gets one for me.” 

Mr. Collier Under Oath 


“Who’s your favorite child actor?” 

“Can I name anybody I want to?” He looked up 
at Buster Collier, watching us from the far doorway, 
watch in hand. 

“Of course you can !” I said impatiently. 

“All right : Henry Miller.” 

“And who is your favorite dramatic critic?” 

“ ‘Is?’ Your tenses are all wrong. It’s ‘was.’ He 
is in another world now. All my favorite dramatic 
critics are there — with Uncle Ned.” 

“Have you enjoyed this interview?” 

“What time is it?” 

“Six-one.” He looked at his own watch in cor- 
roboration. He beamed. 

“I am no longer under oath. Yes,” he said; “I 
never enjoyed anything so much in my life.” 

Miss Barrymore and the Wits 

NCE upon a time, when she was very, 
very young, I had a real Interview with 
Ethel Barrymore — full of dates and 
Drama and ambitions and impressions 
and favorite literature and I don’t 
know what not. And I never knew 
low stuffy and podgy and interview-y it was till a year 
later Miss Barrymore had an Interview with me and 
wrote her revenge complete. 

That was when they wore skirts to the floor and 
puff sleeves. 

Now, when every two or three or five years brings 
us together, we just sit over a cup of tea and a cigaret 
(and even my pipe, in the grace of her hospitality) 
and look at each other in friendly appraisal, and say 
how thinner and lovelier she’s grown, and how pre- 
maturely grey my grey head continues to get, and — 
well, now we don’t interview. 

I forgave her when she clutched (I must say 
clutched) one letter from the afternoon mail and tore 
(nothing less) open its envelope and read it with — I 
vow with a blush of pleasure. 

“Ah, Ethel, they still write!” I said. 

“It’s the first I’ve had from him. Listen : ‘ . 

and please send me $3. . . . Yours very truly, Sam.’ ” 
And Sam’s mother passed the precious paper to me. 

I don’t know just how, but presently we were talk- 
ing about Sam’s maternal grandfather, who was the 



First Wit of the Lambs’ in the sedentary days before 
that club had become fistrionic. And Maurice Barry- 
more’s daughter was telling me how her father had 
one night met the dramatic scrutator of the Police 
Gazette, who had simpishly asked Mr. Barrymore if 
he’d seen the “roast” of his performance in the last 

“No,” the actor had said, “I shave myself.” 

So we fell to talking of other wits and what they 
had said that was witty. 

There was an actor who thought much of him- 
self, but whom history has forgotten, who sought some 
sort of near stellar distinction in the program of a 
Barrie play in which he was to appear. 

“How would it do,” this actor asked the author, 
“if my name came last on the program and you printed 
on the line above it the word ‘AND’?” 

Miss Barrymore told me that Barrie had answered : 
“Why not ‘BUT’?” 

She loves Barrie as much as I hope Sir James 
loves her for her exquisite performance in “Alice-Sit- 
by-the-Fire” — which I hope she will revive some day 
after she has made a million dollars out of the fire- 
works of “” 

When we strayed from the wits we talked about 
the world’s series. This very fine, beautiful American 
lady knows baseball as she knows bridge and polo; 
nor are they the only games to which she thrills intelli- 
gently. I was reminded of a midnight telegram from 
the “road” which I received from her in a newspaper 
office many years ago: “In four hours I shall be in 
the degrading act of entraining for Lincoln, Neb. 
Meantime will you please wire me how many rounds 

Miss Barrymore and the Wits 99 

and who won tonight’s fight? Yours for the higher 
education for women, Ethel Barrymore.” 

And we talked about the book that once upon a 
time she did not write. When Ethel first went on the 
stage, in London, in New York, in Chicago and in San 
Francisco, she was forever meeting personages who 
said, “I held you on my knee when you were a little 

“They kept on saying it,” she smiled, “till one 
night at a dinner I said that I was going to write and 
publish a book of elderly gentlemen and give it the 
telling title of ‘Knees I’ve Sat On.’ ” 

She put Mrs. Patrick Campbell among the wits, 
and Emily Stevens, too — she wished Zoe Akins, author 
of her dear “Declassee,” had been there to tell me the 
latest Emilyisms. But, speaking of Mrs. Pat, I thought 
this one was quite perfect : 

“She was playing with George Alexander in Lon- 
don, and Alexander took her aside and said,” laughed 
Ethel, “that she’d have to stop laughing at him on 
the stage.” 

“ ‘I never laugh at you on the stage,’ Mrs. Pat pro- 
tested ; ‘I always wait till I get home.’ ” 

We elected Brother John to the Order. I had 
never told his sister what he said to me when we 
first met. It was during his first engagement, a small 
part with William Collier in “The Dictator.” And my 
friendly greeting to Ethel’s little brother had been: 
“What makes you look so much taller on the stage?” 
To which Jack had solemnly answered: “Collier.” 

“It was as witty as yours on Sargent,” I told 

“He had just painted your portrait, and when I 
asked if it was a good likeness you hesitated and said 



it was doubtless you as Sargent saw you. ‘You plus 
Sargent?’ I suggested. And you flashed, ‘Yes — and 
minus resemblance.’ ” 

“I don’t remember,” vowed Sargent’s friend, 
Ethel, who meant she didn’t want to. ‘‘Excuse me 
while I ring up Main 5000 and see if Cleveland got the 
other game.” 

The Twenty-Second Street 

T is early at the sign of “The Midnite 
Frolic,” whose lanterned letters used 
to spell “Freiberg’s Dance Hall.” It 
is early and was always early in this 
slice of Twenty-second street at one 
o’clock in the morning, 
is going. They’re all coming. Happy 
and hippy delegates to the Republican convention are 
eating the two-dollar midnight table d’hote all the way 
from spring onions to lady fingers. The a la carters 
will perform later. 

Miss Josephine Taylor, Aphrodite of the cabaret 
which wheels and whirls on the central floor, hasn’t yet 
entered her first suit of tights. Swan Wood is dancing 
only the dances that made Little Egypt a conservative ; 
she hasn’t yet begun really to swing and sway. Incan- 
descents are blinking behind the heads of drum and 
banjo among the Five Aces of Syncopation. 

Ike Bloom, impresario of these sounds and 
sceneries, has only just had his matutinal shave; his 
bald head gleams in a sudden shift of Miss Swan’s 
spotlight — the barber should have talced it. And I am 
here to talk with the Twenty-second street Ziegfeld. 

“It’s your first perfect ‘alibi’ for coming out,” 
says Mr. Bloom, and adds, “Times have changed !” 

Perhaps I sigh, but Mr. Bloom doesn’t. He looks 

Not a cab 



around at the fresh gay trimmings of yellow and blue, 
at the silken wear of his choristers, at the tables 
crowded with women and men who would wed-dress a 
flower show or a horse race, and he says, slightly dis- 
tending his platinum-buttoned shirt front: 

“Changed? I should say! Time was when society 
women came in here under black veils looking for dark 
corners. Now their veils and heads are up. They 
walk into the Midnite Frolic like they’d walk into the 
Ritz-Carlton, and the first thing they ask the head 
waiter is, ‘Have you got a center table?’” 

“You’ve seen some nights in the old place, Ike.” 
“My boy! And some sights, too. I saw Walter 
Shaftel come in here the night after he’d won the 
Derby with Highball and order a glass of ‘wine’ for 
everybody in the house. I had one of the boxes — there 
were boxes then — decorated with his colors. He fin- 
ished his drink and was on his way to the next place. 
He says: ‘How much for that round, Ike?’ ‘I really 
don’t know,’ I told him. ‘Well, ring up this,’ says he, 
and hands me twenty-five hundred iron men.” 

“Them was the !” 

He interrupts to say he does miss one old “bunch.” 
But there is no great pathos in this admission when 
he names them as “the reformers.” He steps a couple 
of tables away mildly to caution a badged and flushed 
visitor not to tease the soprano, and takes up : 

“I recall the night Arthur Burrage Farvvell comes 
in here with a band of famous evangelists. I tell ’em 
to go as far as they like; they’re welcome to convert 
everybody in the place. I give them the freedom of 
the tables; I order the drinks all around — lemonade; 
and when they ask for the center of the dance floor to 
kneel down and pray and sing ‘Washed in the Blood of 
the Lamb,’ I give it to ’em. I give ’em my jazz band, 

The Twenty-Second Street Ziegfeld 103 

too, which plays their accompaniment and plays it 
mighty damned well. One of the papers carries a 
story next day that was all straight except where it 
says I knelt and sang with ’em. That was an error. I 
don’t sing.” 

Girls with candles are lighting a pretty little can- 
dle number on the stairs. Greater mimes from earlier 
shows in the loop are showing at tables on the firing 
line. Yonder is one of the best of the American lead- 
ing men, and near him one of the newest of the season’s 
dramatic stars. Comes an intermission of supping, 
sipping and dancing — and how some of those actor 
folks can dance! 

But where, oh where, are the dance-hall girls of 
yesternight whose overlord and master was Bloom? 
What became of her with the violet eyes and cupreous 
hair whom we shall call Vera? Let Ike tell it: 

“In the old nights of the dance-hall those girls 
knew I wouldn’t stand for larceny. That was barred. 
They knew it was the one thing that’d make a copper 
out of me. So I can tell you, old man, I felt pretty sore 
one morning when a guy that’s been here most of the 
night gets Vera pinched for jack-rolling him in a taxi 
for a hundred and ninety. She sends for me. I says 
I’ll get her a lawyer and I’m through if she took it. 

“‘I didn’t, Ike,’ she says; ‘but here’s a diamond 
ring worth two-fifty. You take the ring and give the 
guy his hundred and ninety, which I’d rather lose than 
spend another night in jail.’ 

“ ‘It’s a cinch she got it,’ says the inspector when 
Vera pulls off the ring. ‘But I don’t know about that,’ 
says I to him ; and I put Vera back on the floor and 
collect out of her twenty dollars a week salary. 

“Well, it was more than a year before the bird 



that got Vera pinched came back to old Freiberg’s — 
and he got confidential. Maybe I encouraged his con- 
fidence. Anyway, he finally told me that that night a 
year ago he’d spent a hundred and ninety that belonged 
to his firm — and then got Vera pinched to keep from 
going to jail himself. I told him not to come round 
any more.” 

“How’d you tell him?” 

“On the jaw. I think I broke it.” 

“What became of Vera?” 

“Oh — I forgot to tell you what made me tell you 
all this! Vera was in the other night — with her hus- 
band. Mighty nice young feller, even if he is rotten 
rich. They’ve got two of the finest kids on the North 

“Vera told you?” 

“No — no!” protests Mr. Bloom, dismayed by my 
stupidity. “Vera’s husband told me. I’ve known him 
for years — but of course I’m not acquainted with his 

“Are you making a new fortune out of the old 
place, Ike?” 

“Not yet, but I will. Some of my friends say I’m 
crazy and going to lose my B. V. D.’s. But when I play 
a hunch I go the limit ; and it’s my hunch that Chicago 
wants what I’m trying to give it.” 

“You believe in hunches?” 

“In mine — hunches and friendships are my reli- 
gion. I’ll tell you a crazy hunch I followed — Jimmy 
Ward; you remember Jimmy. He was flying for the 
Curtisses and I got stuck on him and got his release. 
Got a couple of planes and entered him in the Hearst 
Coast-to-Coast. He flew all right from Governor’s 
Island to Hornell, where he met a mountain that was 

The Twenty-Second Street Ziegfeld 105 

blocking traffic. What a wreck! I was out seventeen 
thousand and almost flat. But I got him in his rags 
into Albany in front of the newspapermen and the 

“And next day the printer brought me the red 
letterheads reading, ‘Jimmy Ward, the world’s greatest 
and youngest (he wasn’t forty yet) flyer,’ and within 
thirty days I’d cleaned up $38,000 worth of summer 
park engagements. All told, I cleaned a hundred thou. 

“And this hunch,” he goes on, “for an all-night 
show in the old place, with Society clamoring for 
front seats instead of dark sneaks and behaving itself 
as it would at home (it was always the society people 
who made my New Year’s Eves rowdy) — well, I’m 
going to play this hunch out if it takes my whole string. 
I’ve just telegraphed Eva Tanguay at Atlantic City to 
say there’s five thousand for her to come and head the 
new bill, and I’ll not stop there. I’ll stick till I put this 
over if I have to do it with Mary Garden !” 

Mr. Bloom sees me to the door, where a few cabs 
are now awaiting the “Home, James.” 

“Anything else on your heart, Ike?” I say. 

“Yes,” says he — “since you ask: that pipe. It’s 
the first one that’s been smoked in the place in twenty 
years. I hope you enjoyed it!” 

About some things Mr. Bloom is still a prude. 

The Second Wind of 
Mrs. Leslie Carter 

IS. LESLIE CARTER and I sat in her 
spacious living rooms at the Sherman, 
talking about our hair. 

I was a black-haired boy and she 
was the most talked-about actress in 
the United States when I last inter- 
viewed ner. Mrs. Carter was playing “Du Barry” then 
— or was it “Zaza”? Anyway, it was not less than 
twenty years ago ; and now only the alternate hairs of 
my aging head are black, while Mrs. Carter’s abundant 
tresses burn with the same Titian red as they did when 
the twentieth century was born. Science has done a 
wonderful job, I told myself. 

But nature did a wonderfuller job in the preserva- 
tion of her voice, I thought; in fact, I said it to her. 
“I could shut my eyes at the performance of ‘The Circle’ 
the other night,” I said, “and hear you just as I did 
when I was a boy and you were a young woman and 
Miriam Michelson wrote in a book, ‘Mrs. Carter has 
talented hair.’ There is not the first gray hair in your 


“It’s heaven’s truth.” 

“And do you know that Archie Selwyn arrived in 
Paris barely in time to save my hair?” she told me, 
cozily, almost woman-to-woman ; and a fine picture she 
made with her erect and still lissome figure smartly 


A ctorviews 

tailored in soft bronze wool and her high-held head 
hatted Parisianly with fluff and feathers of the same 

“I had made an appointment to have it cut,” she 
went on, “when in walked Mr. Selwyn, all the way 
from New York, to ask me how I should like to come 
back to the stage. 

“ ‘The stage?’ I said — ‘why, I’m just going to have 
my hair bobbed. Everybody’s doing it.’ 

“‘For God’s sake, don’t!’ screamed Mr. Selwyn. 
‘We’ll need it in the production. You wouldn’t be you 
without your hair.’ And he told me his plans for ‘The 
Circle,’ and how he wanted me to co-star with Mr. John 

“You had quite retired from the stage?” 

“Yes; but unwillingly; and cutting my hair would 
have severed the last tie.” 

“You say unwillingly?” 

“I never retired from the stage — it was you news- 
paper boys who retired me,” she declared without 
resentment ; and that amiable designation of the critics 
was the only token of elderliness that I detected in the 
speech of Mrs. Carter, wishing, as she said it, that 
William Winter could have lived a few years longer 
to have heard her call him one of the “boys.” 

“You boys wrote so much about my retirement 
that presently I found myself retired,” she smiled, 
lifting a reproachful hand. “But what matter! I was 
contented in Paris, where I had a pleasant home and 
where a dog is not treated like a dog but like a human 


“Yes; you wouldn’t know Paris since the war. 
The dog now rules Paris.” 

The Second JLind of Mrs. Leslie Carter 109 

“You approve?” 

“I love my dogs. The only unchivalrous treatment 
that I received this time in Chicago was on account of 
my dogs. Hotel after hotel refused to take my dogs — 
the Blackstone, the Drake, the Congress, the Virginia, 
all the good ones but the Sherman.” 

“The Sherman has the European idea?” 

“It has the civilized idea. But I want you to meet 
my daughter. I want you to meet my three daughters. 
Mary !” 

And I was presented to Miss Mary Payne, daugh- 
ter of Mrs. Carter’s husband, Mr. William Louis Payne, 
and to Meg and Lizzie, who are beautiful white curly 
Selyhams. I thought Mrs. Carter said they were Sel- 
wyns until she spelled it out for me, and told me that 
they are derived from the Highlander and the wire- 
haired terrier. 

The pampered pups gave me a bored look and 
curled up at Mrs. Carter’s exquisitely shod feet (Car- 
tier, I thought, might be her shoe man) and went 
silently to sleep. But Mary Payne was vividly awake, 
and so was her unrestrained wavy brown hair. I 
liked Mary Payne; and when Mrs. Carter had done 
talking about the dogs she told me that she was teach- 
ing the child the part of Zaza. 

“I’m going to make her play it some day. I want 
her to step into my shoes — when. I suppose they’ll 
wear out some day ; . . . not that I’ve any thought of 
retiring. I’ve just got my second wind.” 


Mr. Payne, a quiet gentleman of considerable dig- 
nity, came in and passed the time of day, and went 
away with Mary and the dogs for a walk by the lake 
Mrs. Carter has been remembering last year’s New 
York first night of “The Circle” ; and she told me with 



some emotion of her sensations at reappearing after 
seven years before the old and the new crowd of 

“I've had, as you know, several wonderful first 
nights,” she said with nothing but the truth. “But 
this was the most wonderful of all. It seemed that 
every person in the theater was standing up and hold- 
ing out a friendly hand to me. Really,” she went on in 
a desperate reach for the adequate phrase, “it made 
history.” The words weren’t much, but the tone was 

“You’re as mad about the stage as you were a 
quarter of a century ago,” I said in wonder. 

“I know I am, and proud of it! When the lights 
go up and the overture begins to play, I’m like an old 
war horse smelling battle. My heart commences to 
pump and my nerves to sing and I feel like a girl again. 
There’s a line in this part of Lady Kitty that tells 
something of what I feel. It’s this: T shall never, 

never grow old!’ And I shan’t. My mother never 
grew old, and she lived to be eighty. She was young 
the day she died. I shall die — we must all do that — but 
never grow old. B-r-r-r! I don’t -want even to think 
of it. When people say to me, ‘How many years ago 
was it that you did this, or that?’ I say, ‘It was yester- 
day, only yesterday ; don’t, for heaven’s sake, speak of 
years !’ ” 

“Does it sometimes shock you when you meet a 
contemporary you haven’t seen for a long time?” 

“How’d you guess that, Ashton Stevens? Of 
course it does; it shocks me terribly. I always think 
of my old friends as they were, unaltered by time. 
And when I meet them and find them middle-aged, old, 
it’s heartbreaking; I can’t stand it. But I tell myself 
that the artists, the great artists of the stage, don’t 

The Second Wind of Mrs. Leslie Carter 111 

change — much; they are still great artists, are Julia 
Marlowe, Edward Sothern, Otis Skinner, Blanche 
Bates, Henry Miller, David Warfield, John Drew of 
course, even Robert Mantell.” 

“Manager across the street had to fight with him 
last season to keep Mantell — in the sixty-ninth year of 
his age — from playing Romeo,” I interpolated. 

“That’s the spirit!” applauded Mrs. Carter, and 
she was applauding not the manager but the actor. 
“Growing old is only a state of mind. Not that I’m a 
Christian Scientist, either, but I refuse to get in that 
state of mind. I can close my mind against anything, 
anything,” she went on vehemently. “When they used 
to publish and say terrible things about me I could 
close my mind and tell myself that these things were 
not being said about me but about some strange, 
remote, interesting, historical character. 

“No matter,” she added slowly, “what anybody 
says, it can’t alter your estimate of yourself. I know 
what I am. And my answer to anything anybody says 
is, ‘I’m here!’ ” 

“I had to put away my notes and was about to go 
when Mr. Belasco’s name was spoken — I forget by 
whom or in what connection — but I clearly recall her 
words when the name of the manager who molded her 
to fame came up. 

“I have not spoken to Mr. Belasco for sixteen 
years,” she volunteered. “I have seen him once within 
that time ; we were as near as you and I are now ; but 
we did not speak. And I was, for a while, sorry that 
we had not spoken. But now I’m glad we didn’t. 
There’s a little altar within me in which the David 
Belasco that I knew is enshrined — and for all the 
world I would not have it changed.” 

Consistently Savoy and Brennan 

Y GOD ! He’s coming in !” I heard cried 
in a hoarse contralto as John Garrity 
shot me into the dressing room. 

We were back stage at the Gar- 
rick, where “The Greenwich Village 
Follies” was the tenant, and for an 
fancied we had broken into the chamber 
of a prima donna without any clothes on. A long naked 
back was dodging from view behind the ample skirts 
of a ladies’ maid, and my heart was jiggling with 
embarrassment when my eye caught the welcome sight 
of a pair of pants. Checkered they were, and belonged 
to Mr. Jay Brennan, who sat in them at the back of 
the room. 

“Welcome!” he said softly, lowering his blued 
eyelids and fluttering their lashes as is his wont. “It’s 
Mr. Stevens, Bert.” 

Mr. Savoy came up from behind his ladies’ maid 
partially reclad; which is to say that his dresseress 
had buckled him into a pink corset. Thus attired, he 
greeted me man to man with, “Sit down, Mr. Stevens 
— at your own risk!” And after the retreating man- 
ager he called, as he adjusted his red bobbed wig, “If 
you hear anybody getting killed in here, Mr. Garrity. 
pay no attention !” 

Five minutes and we were as peaceful as a dis- 
armament conference. Time was, they told me, when 

awful instant I 



Savoy and Brennan looked on the likes of me as on an 
old school Russian with a knout. Oh, but I had been a 
bad boy to the artists of female impersonation, invari- 
ably spoiling their newspaper and breakfast for them 
the day following a Chicago opening. But this time, 
here on a chair by the door, while Mr. Savoy painted 
his smile, I was almost human. They went so far as 
to wish I’d been at last night’s party. 

“Really, Stevens,” said Mr. Savoy — and his words 
seemed to come from the heart — “you should have 
been with us.” 

“That’s Bert’s new line for next year — ‘You 
should have been with us.’ How do you like it?” 
inquired Mr. Brennan. 

“I think it will become immortal along with ‘You 
must come over’ and ‘I’m glad you asked me,’ ” said I, 
quoting with mixed emotions. 

“It was the other one that really put us on the 
map as destroyers of the English language,” said Mr. 

And this reminded his panted partner of a tele- 
gram sent by Charles Dillingham to Morris Gest on 
the occasion of Mr. Gest’s securing the lease of the 
Century Theater and Roof without, perhaps, full 
realization of all the obligations entailed. “Dilling- 
ham,” said Mr. Brennan, “wired Gest, ‘You don’t know 
the half of it, dearie’; and the newspapers picked up 
the telegram and Bert’s line became famous over 

“Much as I like to talk about myself,” beamed Mr. 
Savoy, “I feel that I must change the subject long 
enough to introduce you to Mrs. Jones.” 

So their big motherly dresseress and I shook hands, 
and I said something about a woman doubtless being 

Consistently Savoy and Brennan 115 

more sympathetic for an act like theirs than a man. 

“You’re right, Stevens,” said Mr. Savoy. “They 
tell me Mary Garden’s got a valet, but as for me, I 
contend it takes a woman to understand a woman’s 

“Mr. Eltinge had a Jap for years, but now that 
he’s tried a woman he wouldn’t have any other sex in 
his dressing room,” Mrs. Jones herself attested. 

“Besides,” Mr. Brennan contributed, “you can’t 
depend on a man in a show like this, with so many 
girls in it. Just when you want him to lace you up 
he’s out in the wings -with the women.” 

“And why put temptation in the poor devil’s 
way?” cried Mr. Savoy to all Randolph street; and for 
me, he added, “Anyhow, Steve, I always feel safer in a 
woman’s hands.” 

That was Bert Savoy’s character, and he was going 
to stick to it ! 

“Believe me, Ashton,” Mr. Savoy was saying, and 
saying passionately, as Mrs. Jones helped him with a 
change, “it’s the women that lead me on to say the 
awful things I say on the stage. Out in front they 
lead me on with their knowing laughter, and from 
home they write or telephone me little feminine things 
which they have heard and which they think will betray 
womankind in our act. One of the chorus girls was 
telling me to-day that she’d asked a new chorus girl if 
she’d ever seen Grant’s tomb, and she answered she 
didn’t know he had one.” 

“But there’s nothing bold in that one,” Mr. Bren- 
nan objected. “Tell him about the girl that took the 
man out to dinner where the lights were dim and the 
music soft and the wine cold, and he said, ‘I’ve never 
been in a place like this before,’ and she said, ‘My God ! 
I’m out with an amateur!’ ” 



So Mr. Savoy told me; and, not getting it quite 
right, they both told me, and I think I added a line or 
a word or something until it was a noble specimen of 
the third-rate gag. 

“But I’ll never tell another on the stage like that 
one I told just now,” said Mr. Savoy. “Ashton, I’m glad 
you weren’t out in front.” 

“What was it?” I asked in the interests of 

“Well, Jay was saying that the house detective 
said a man jumped out of a tenth-story window at three 
o’clock this morning, and I said the man must have 
been listening at our keyhole. You should have heard 
the women in the audience laugh ! They screamed. It 
was terrible; it was too much; it jarred. I wouldn’t 
pull that joke again, not even with Charles Dillingham 
in the house — and he always eggs us on, and’s going 
to star us next year, maybe, in ‘You Must Come Over,' 
written by Avery Hopwood. So far as I’m concerned, 
that joke is out. Once was too much.” 

“Tell Mr. Stevens about the Spanish beauty who 
tried to kill herself when we first worked for Dilling-; 
ham,” said Mr. Brennan by way of compromise. 

“Her name,” said Mr. Savoy, “was Tortalita 
Valencia — Jay can spell it — Jay’s the speller of the 
firm — and she was with us in ‘Miss 1917’ and had a 
poison ring, guaranteed to kill with one bite. She 
flopped the first night and came by our dressing room 
door sucking that big pearl ring with the death in it. 
‘She’s murdering herself,’ I yelled, and went at her to 
relieve her stomach. I was rough, but sincere. There 
was a fight all over the stage, before the others knew 
what I was trying to do, and it was some fight, Ashton ; 
you should have been with us. Dillingham would have 
died of rage if he hadn’t laughed so much.” 

Consistently Savoy and Brennan 117 

“He said his wife heard about it and was going to 
sue for a divorce and name Savoy and Brennan. — 
Quick, Bert, there’s your cue.” 

Mr. Savoy ran for it, Mr. Brennan following him 
with shorter steps; and it occurred to me that of the 
two Mr. Brennan would make the more ladylike imper- 
sonator, if that were the idea, which, of course, it isn’t. 

Mrs. Jones was talking to me like a woman well 
paid and placed. “They’re wonderful,” she said. 
“They’re more modest than the girls,” she said. 
“They’ just like my own boys,” she said, “and when 
one of ’em gets to grumbling at the other, I say, ‘Maybe 
he’s nervous to-night, so don’t pay any attention,’ and 
smooth it over.” 

“A girl was just telling me,” said Mr. Brennan 
when the couple came back, “that she and another girl 
passed a book store next door to a picture house where 
Douglas Fairbanks was being shown in ‘The Three 
Musketeers,’ and the book store window was full of 
the Dumas romance. ‘Ain’t the printing press wonder- 
ful?’ said the other girl — ‘they’ve got the book out 
already.’ Not so good, eh? You tell him, Bert, about 
the time you made Edison laugh.” 

“It was at a banquet to the great inventor, and I 
did my darnedest, Ashton. And when I got back to the 
show I told one of the girls I didn’t give a damn — the 
very word I used — what the audience did for me 
to-night, because I’d just told one or two that made 
Thomas Edison laugh. ‘Did you know,’ she asked me, 
‘that Edison’s deaf?’ — I don’t think so much of that, 
either. Purity is all right, but don’t overdo it. Not 
this season. Because this season, Ashton, is a very 
blase season for actor folk, and requires lots of pepper. 
If ever there was a season, Ashton, when I felt like 



letting down my hair and being the woman I oughtn’t 
to be, this is the season. 

“But my type, the type of woman I represent,” 
Mr. Savoy proceeded, “won’t permit me to be too aban- 
doned. You know the type, Ashton, the type of woman 
that knows everything and knows nothing ; that wants 
to make you believe how bad she is and never gives 
herself a chance to be bad — laughs herself out of it. 
I’m that way myself ; I never have what you would call 
a perfect good time — I always talk myself out of it. 

“But as I say,” he went on, enlarging the charac- 
ter, “this is a blase season and there’s such a thing as 
being too conservative. This is no season for poise and 
particularity (you spell it, Jay), and the thing for a 
poor girl is to have her room rent paid in advance.” 

Mr. Savoy’s wig was off, exposing a highish, bald- 
ish forehead. From a bedizened and unlovely woman 
of the night he had been momentarily transformed into 
a good-looking man who might have been author of 
a book or president of a rubber company or proprietor 
of a hotel. 

“Do you ever appear on the stage with your own 
bald brow?” I asked Mr. Savoy. 

“I wouldn’t resort to such a thing!” he flared, 
“I’ve never in my life got out of my character for an 
audience — I have too much respect for their intelli- 
gence. Nothing could induce me to walk mannish for 
them, or say a basso ‘Hello, Bill!’ or pull a wig. I’d 
never pull a wig on an audience.” 

“Do you think female impersonators ought to get 

“Yes, Ash, I do,” answered Mr. Savoy, who is 

“And then,” Mr. Brennan completed, as he flut- 
tered his blue lids, “when they felt the act flopping, 
they could pull the wife instead of the wig.” 

That Adorable Laurette Taylor 

EMEMBERING Mr. J. Hartley Man- 
ners’ disesteem for the cinema, I went 
up to the Congress Hotel and asked 
Mr. and Mrs. Manners to come with 
me to the picture show. The author of 
“Peg o’ My Heart” was polite but 
firm. His “thank you” was lost in the heartiness of his 
“no.” But the partner of his plays and sorrows declared 
that she dearly loves a picture — when it’s good ; dotes 
on them — when they’re good. So only Mrs. Manners 
(which of course is equally to mean Miss Laurette 
Taylor) came along to the movies. 

Michael started with us, but she didn’t last. This 
veteran male impersonator of the terrier in “Peg” is 
growing old and sedentary. She parked her tail heav- 
ily in the dead center of Jackson boulevard where it 
cuts into Michigan avenue, congesting traffic and crim- 
soning the face of a furious cop. 

“Briggs ought to draw a picture of this for ‘When 
a Fellow Needs a Friend,’ ” Miss Taylor observed as we 
turned and towed Michael home. 

Now we were quite free. The sun shone on the 
avenue, and I think it shone on as attractive a girl as 
ever privately filled the role of wife and mother. Black 
was her wear all the visible way, from her sewed 
silken hat to her rounded suede slippers; a curiously 
lusterless black, lit here and there by tiny flashes of 
white — as, say, the little white beads unornately sewed 



on the veil-like stuff at her neck. But my poor powers 
of description crumble. I can only say that to an out- 
sider Mrs. Manners would have appeared widowesque 
— that an optimistic soul might have said that her cos- 
tume symbolized Hope. 

It was very young black, but no younger, I swear, 
than the pale, animate, big-eyed, little-girl face on 
which the sun shone this perfect day in June. 

I picked out a young show. I took her to Orches- 
tra Hall, my favorite picture palace, to see Jackie 
Coogan in “Peck’s Bad Boy.” But we were too old for 
that. Mammas were reading the titles aloud to children. 
We moved from the right to the left side of the house, 
and still mammas were reading aloud. 

“I don’t believe Irvin Cobb wrote all those titles,” 
said Miss Taylor, giving Mr. Cobb the benefit of the 
doubt. “What do you say,” she suggested, “if we go 
and see Mary Pickford?” 

I said “Fine!” and we went — to one of those 
ambiguous picture places on the north side of Madison 
street, where there’s but one musician in the orchestra 
and sometimes he’s not there. We went and saw and 
relished Mary Pickford in “Through the Back Door.” 
And Miss Taylor laughed and sighed when Miss Pick- 
ford’s young man ran from her directly she told him 
the little Belgian children were “hers” — laughed and 
sighed and provokingly said on the end of the sigh : 
“All men respect a mother!” 

I forget what it provoked — but let’s hope it wasn’t 
too respectful. 

I remember her answer. Her answer was a 
detachment in which she praised Mary Pickford and 
said that if “Peg” were to be screened for any actress 
but herself she’d like to see Miss Pickford do it. 

“But you’ll play Peg for the pictures yourself?” 

That Adorable Laurette Taylor 121 

“Yes,” she said, “now that I’ve seen myself in a 
test. And that reminds me of a picture manufacturer 
who offered me a certain incredible sum to play for 
the screen. I told him his figure fascinated me. 

“ ‘But first, of course, you’ll make a test,’ he said. 

“ ‘Well, if I make a test and you still want me,’ I 
told him, ‘it will cost you just twice the amount you’ve 
named.’ And he couldn’t see it. He couldn’t see that 
my proposition, calculating on the chance of my failing 
to make a decent test picture, was a sporting proposi- 
tion — that I was willing to take a chance and he 

“Did Fannie Hurst take a chance when she sold 
you the dramatic rights to ‘Humoresque’?” 

“I’ll tell you about that in the dining-room of the 
Drake — I’m famished.” 

“How do you look to yourself in the test?” I asked 
in the cab. 

“I’ve got to admit,” she laughed, “that all the 
pretty Irish in me comes out.” 

We sat by a window in that vast beautiful dining- 
room and looked out where the lake was putting up a 
fairly oceanlike surf. That is, she looked out. I looked 
at her. Such a picture on such a day isn’t conjured 
every week for me. And the waiter must have 
attended to his business, too — everything seemed to 
come along very well for a new hotel. I looked and 
listened. Idle and musical was her talk. She has a 
witchery for words. We’d come to cigarets when 
“Humoresque” came back. 

“The Jews,” she said, “write to me, ‘How dare you 
think you can play Mrs. Kantor ! ’ And the Irish write, 
‘What makes you want to play her?’ And everybody 
thinks it’s the screen success that’s made me want to 



play this Jewish mother on the stage. Now the truth 
is I read the story when it was first published and was, 
you might say, the first one to act it. I cut it down to 
a dramatic reading twenty-five minutes in length, 
rehearsed it, and would have read it at an Actors’ 
Fund benefit if the twenty-five minutes hadn’t been too 
long. As it was, I’d read it at a dozen dinners when 
Fannie Hurst called me up and asked me to look at a 
play she’d just finished. I told her the only play she 
could interest me in was ‘Humoresque.’ 

“ ‘I’ve seen you play lots of things and you’re a 
good actress,’ said Fannie, ‘but I’ll be frank with you — 
I’ve yet to see the first Christian who can perfectly 
counterfeit the Jewish accent.’ 

“ ‘Maybe there’s something in that,’ I said, ‘but 
what do you say if I go over and read Mrs. Kantor 
to you?’ 

“Fannie took a chance. I found her with a man- 
ager’s check for a thousand dollars and a contract 
wanting only her signature. ‘Don’t sign, Fannie, till 
I speak my piece,’ I said, and read her my twenty-five- 
minute abridgment of her story. Her answer was to 
inclose the check with the contract in the return 
envelope. ‘Humoresque’ was mine.” 

“Why do you want to do it — just a feat of 

“No ; hardly that at all. I want to play an oldish 
woman while I’m still young enough to play girls; 
before older parts are forced on me. But it’s not that, 
either. The real reason is the sense of beauty that I 
find in the character and in the play. In that woman 
there is something of the beauty that Rembrandt saw 
among the lowly, and I want to try to realize it on the 
stage. What’re you thinking of so solemnly?” 

“Oh, another kind of beauty — and I’m wondering 

That Adorable Laurette Taylor 123 

how the devil I’ll ever find words to tell a newspaper 
how you look to-day !” 

“Give me that sheet of paper and I’ll help you out. 
I say, my dear man, where’d you get this paper?” 

“It was just some ragged scratch paper I saw on 
Hartley’s desk and swiped.” 

“Scratch paper? It’s my best note! Pencil, 

And the lines appended here are identically the 
ones she swiftly wrote for me, only that several of 
Miss Taylor’s ubiquitous dashes have been swapped for 
periods, which she scorns : 

“She was dressed in the prevailing mode — dull, 
dull black, with a suggestion of white on the cavalier 
cape slung back from her upright slender shoulders. 
She looked pretty, but the thing I liked best was the 
decided appearance of widowhood. I tried to forget 
that we had left Hartley, fair, fat and thirty, on the 
sofa at home.” 

Louis Wolheim, Ph.D 

I I ■ WENT up in the Blackstone elevator 

wondering what sort of man would be 
Louis Wolheim, who acts Yank the 
Stoker so thunderingly well in O’Neill’s 
“The Hairy Ape.” All I knew about 
^ him — and I knew that but vaguely — 

was that he had taught the higher mathematics in a 
university and that this was the first part to get him 
talked about as an acting man. 

“Once a college professor, always a college pro- 
fessor,” I said to myself, and prepared to meet a large, 
muscular scholar who would no doubt feed me after- 
noon tea and talk literature beyond my means. I 
think I expected to find an athletic Doctor Johnson, an 
unsedentary Gilbert K. Chesterton. And I had no 
doubt he would be wearing a morning coat. 

I have yet to discover what kind of coat Mr. Wol- 
heim does wear. He opened the door to me in his 
shirt — white rough stuff with a black tie hanging from 
a low soft collar. “What a neck!” I was noting when 
his hand met mine. Then it was, “What a paw!” 

I have seen taller men and thicker, but he seemed 
to be the most giantlike I’d ever encountered this side 
of the ring or the mat. Everything about him is big, 
even his voice. His nose is the bigger for being flat- 
tened at the bridge — I know not whether by God or 
man. It is this irregularity of the nose that completes 
the suggestion of ancient sculpture — say Michael 



Angelo plus accident. His hair brushes darkly back 
from a vast retreating forehead, and his mouth and 
chin are thick and heavy. 

It is the face of a fighting man — in which are set, 
under bristling brows, brown eyes of irreconcilable 
humor. His eyes, I found, are the man. 

We went straight to the play and his part. 

“I didn’t want to take the part at first ; it was too 
damn important. Hell, why give it to me and take a 
chance on wrecking the whole damn production?” 
And I observed without sorrow that his speech was 
neither that of the pedagogue nor the play actor. 

Himself I found as plausibly and unprofanely pro- 
fane as the hairy one of his impersonation. Swears 
are emitted by Mr. Wolheim without sting or passion; 
they are only catch-words, slang, color. Profanities 
may be his subtle protest against the pomp and cir- 
cumlocution of the collegian — but that theory is rather 
metaphysical, and there is nothing metaphysical about 
Wolheim — he is all “there.” 

“A dramatic writer,” he went on, “is so damn 
dependent on interpretation. A book can take its time 
to get found out. But you know how it is with a play 
that starts wrong — the damn thing just curls up and 

“And nothing’s so dead as a dead play,” said I, 
hastily adding, “as some old Stagirite has said,” and 
then regretting the addition with the thought that now 
I might have diverted him into Aristotle. 

But, “What the hell chance has a play got to come 
back when some lousy actor has killed it?” he went 
right on. “ ‘Why in God’s name a dub like me?’ I said 
when I’d read the play. ‘I’ve had no experience but 
four or five bum parts ; I’ll be a holy stench. Whyinell 
should I be picked?’ Because I argued that here was 

Louis W olheim, Ph. D. 


great stuff, here was something that needed telling. 
It called for trumpets, I told Hopkins. ‘Why give it to 
a long penny whistle like me?’ That’s the way I talked 
— and then,” his eyes smiling, “surrendered to better 

“All I know about acting,” quoth Mr. Wolheim, 
“which is mighty damn little, I learned from Lionel 
Barrymore, a great actor, by God ! And all he ever told 
me was: ‘Don’t act!’ Oh, maybe I’ve got one idea of 
my own, something like reading a line every time as 
though it’s the first time. Every man can express him- 
self if you can only get it out of him spontaneously — 
get me? I’ve heard actors, called down at rehearsal, 
begin to argue with the stage manager, and I’ve 
thought if they’d only talk their lines as they talk their 
damn argument, whatthehell, they’d be all right. 

“So far as I can see,” he boomed on unaggressively, 
“the acting you can believe is a sort of self-hypnosis. 
I’ve seen Lionel, yawning and stretching in his dress- 
ing room, and I’ve said, ‘Whyinell don’t you go to bed 
before morning? — then you wouldn’t be dead at night.’ 
And he’s said, ‘This isn’t being dead, Wolly, you damn 
fool ; this is just getting this fellow ready for the scene 
in which he’s supposed to be all in.’ Self-hypnosis.” 
“Where’d you teach mathematics — Cornell?” 
“Hell, no; at a school in Ithaca while I was taking 
a Ph. D. at Cornell,” replied Dr. Wolheim. 

“How’d you become an actor?” 

“I’d been in Mexico, on an engineering job, and 
met up with Lionel, who said, ‘Why don’t you come 
into the movies with me?’ It sounded like an adven- 
ture and I went. And the thing caught me. Damme, 
- if I didn’t seem to click! I stuck around the lot for 
four or five years, getting some pretty good parts with 


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Lionel, with a hell-roaring fight between us in every 
damn picture — we put up some peaches! And when 
Lionel played in ‘The Jest’ in New York I followed him 
to the stage. 

“That’s to say, I rehearsed the part of his brother, 
the big guy Gabrillo, and got cold feet, and was tickled 
to death when the picture I was working in at the 
time got delayed and wouldn’t let me leave it. I was so 
nervous-scared I sweated through my coat. But I kept 
hanging round rehearsals of ‘The Jest.’ Lionel had to 
fight with a super in one of his scenes, and they didn’t 
seem to be able to get the right kind of super. So I 
said, ‘Hell, let me play him’ — and Lionel and I had a 
scrap to the queen’s own. And I became a stage actor 
in a part without a line. 

“But toward the end of the season the fellow that 
played the jailer left, and they gave me his part. 
Scared? I was as sick as a sick woman, with fright. 
But once I got out on the stage and opened my fool 
trap, the words came bumping out of me and I didn’t 
give a damn. Whatthehell, if this was acting, I was 
for it ! 

“Next,” the Doctor of Philosophy amiably 
recounted for my record, “I played a peasant, just a 
‘bit,’ in ‘The Letter of the Law’ ; then a bum Mexican 
general in ‘The Broken Wing.’ That makes how many 


“Well, you wouldn’t believe the fourth part I 
played — and got away with!” He laughed a gale. 

For a wild guess I was about to offer one of the 
witches in “Macbeth,” when he saved me with: “I 
played the First Gentleman of Europe in ‘The Fair 
Circassian,’ the Prince Regent who became George the 

Louis Wolheim, Ph. D. 


Fourth. Me. But whatthehell, I got by. And my 
fifth was an old Jew in ‘The Idle Inn/ an old bird with 
a beard.” 

“Meantime, was Lionel saying anything?” 

“To me? Hell, no. He’s too white to give a man 
the absolute accolade, too much of a fellow to speak the 
sign manual of approval. He’d cuss, and say, ‘You 
big son-of-a-stiff, that’s not half lousy!’ but never the 
voice of royalty. Lionel? God, no!” 

“What was part number six?” 

“This one in ‘The Hairy Ape’!” 

“How’d you come to get cast for it?” 

“I don’t know actually. Only this I know. After 
Lionel’s opening in ‘The Claw’ — which I had helped 
translate from the French — O’Neill and his wife were 
among the little crowd at supper. And he and I talked ; 
but not of O’Neill’s next play, which was to be ‘The 
Hairy Ape.’ And a few weeks after that I was notified 
that O’Neill wanted me for the part.” 

I was at this point dying to ask Mr. Wolheim if, 
in his talk with Mr. O’Neill at supper, he had cussed as 
casually for him as he was now cussing for me. But I 
feared to make him conscious. I feared to hear him 
say, “Whatthehell! Can that swear stuff when you 
write the damn piece for the paper!” — the doing of 
which would be as fatal to the flavor of his interview 
as a policeman’s blue pencil would be to his role in 
“The Hairy Ape.” And I also feared that my question 
might suggest in his mind, as it did in mine, another: 
“Mr. Wolheim, do you think your own personal vocabu- 
lary influenced the creator of Yank?” To which a gen- 
tleman of his modesty could only reply with perjury at 
worst. So I very brilliantly said nothing at all. 

“The manuscript was sent to me and I saw a tre- 
mendous play,” he went on, “and, as I’ve told you, I 



said : ‘Why risk the big part on a fellow who’s more 
than likely to do it irreparable injury?’ And this is no 
damn mock modesty on my part, no bum humility, see? 
I believed in the play beyond any manuscript I’d ever 
read. . . . And I don’t know what I’m doing in the 
part, except believing it, every damn word. It’s not 
unlikely that if I got another part of the same impor- 
tance, on the strength of this, I’d fall flat. Anyway, 
acting’s been a damn fine adventure.” 

“How about part number seven?” 

“Who knows? I’m under no contract. Nobody 
had to ‘feature’ me; Hopkins just did it without being 
asked or asking. But who remembers whether you’re 
‘featured’? I can forget it myself. And I’ll bet after 
‘The Ape’ is over I recede into the ranks of among 
those present. But, hell, if you’re damn fool enough to 
want to be an artist, you can paint miniatures !” 

“You expect ?” 

“I expect,” said Louis Wolheim, with an ironic 
grin, “absolutely nothing; and that’s about what I’ll 
get. Whatthehell ! that’ll be an adventure, too.” 

Miss O’ Ramey Concentrates 

OW, remember,” said Miss Georgie 
O’Ramey, the comic lady of “Leave It 
to Jane,” as she toddled me from the 
La Salle Theater to the La Salle Hotel, 
“the lunch is on me this time.” 

“This time?” I transposed her 


“You can’t have forgotten that it was your lunch 
when you interviewed me last time — when I was the 
new soubrette with Kolb and Dill in the Weberfields 
pieces in San Francisco, and told you my real Jewish 
name, and how I took this one because everybody loves 
an Irishman. 

“Why, it was only sixteen years ago next April — 
and nobody in the company would speak to me for 
weeks after it was printed — and I got my salary raised. 
You must remember!” 

“Of course; it was on a Wednesday.” 

“Wonderful! I always said,” she cried, “that you 
have the most wonderful memory in the world.” 

She had engaged a far table in the large dining- 
room that is musicless but for the colorature of captive 
canaries. She had ordered new-mown strawberries, 
and eggs Turque, with an extra deep stain to the dark 
sauce, and silvern pots of golden Oolong. 

There were crisp amber slices in the gleaming 


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toast-rack, but they were no crisper than the speech 
of Georgie O’Ramey. 

I looked under the wide brim of her flower-decked 
picture hat at a still young, oval face with regular, 
geometric features and the most irregular sort of gray- 
green acting eyes — eyes that squint or pop or swoon or 
sparkle at the owner’s will. (I think she could make 
them bark.) 

Then I said : 

“Does a comic woman care about her looks?” 

“Do you think she’d be wearing her Easter hat two 
weeks before Easter if she didn’t? Your question is 

“I was thinking of the awful things you wear on 
the stage.” 

“I’ll wear anything for comic character. I’ll wear 
the parlor curtains or the oilcloth from under the 
kitchen stove — if it’s clean. Dirt isn’t funny — I don’t 
care whether it’s in your costume or your lines. I’ll 
wear anything that’s clean — and in character. I’d even 
wear a bustle made out of your Sunday interviews.” 

“Speaking of character,” I retaliated, “did you 
ever play the beautiful heroine?” 

“Yes — that is, almost. A1 Woods cast me and 
canned me in the part of Valorie West in ‘The Com- 
mon Law.’ ” 

“ You played Valorie West!” 

“I rehearsed the part for three weeks — till one day 
A1 Woods saw a rehearsal. He still owes me a week’s 
salary for the third week — but I haven’t the heart to 
remind him.” 

“Why did he ‘can’ you?” 

“The why isn’t important — it was the how. I was 

Miss O’Ramey Concentrates 


acting for all I was worth at this rehearsal. I was 
snaking and emoting all over the place. I coiled up to 
George W. Hero and I said to him with meaning in 
every syllable: 

“ ‘I don’t want to marry you — but — but I want to 
be everything in the world to you.’ 

“And A1 Woods spoke up without removing his 
cigar : 

“ ‘In a minute you’ll be touching that guy for five. 
That’s the way you play Valorie West. Get out!’ 

“And I got. I’ve got to give myself credit for 
right then, with the assistance of Mr. Woods, retiring 
forever from beautiful heroines. 

“That’s the first and last time I ever tried to be 
an actress. I immediately set my powers of concentra- 
tion at work on something else.” 

“Your what?” 

“My powers of concentration. Anything that ever 
came to me in this business I got through concentration. 
And I’ve got everything I ever really wanted — every- 
thing but a child.” 

“How do you work it?” 

“You just wish and wish for something and keep 
on wishing. And one day it happens.” 


“Always — with the two exceptions noted.” 

“Give me an example?” 

“Of course. I wanted Edith Hallor out of our 
show. I wanted her to leave ‘Leave It to Jane.’ I con- 
centrated on getting her out. She’s out.” 


“Not on your life! No eccentric character is 
jealous of a straight lead. She was a disturbing influ- 
ence to discipline — acted as though she owned this 


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piece and had an option on all the other music shows in 

“She’d miss performances and give us all the 
laugh. It was bad for everybody, bad for the prop- 
erty. So I concentrated on getting Miss Hallor out, 
and I kept on concentrating, harder and harder.” 

Miss O’Ramey’s eyes were all green now with 
bright opalescent fires. 

“And finally she not only stayed away from our 
shop, but, after leaving us flat, went and sat with the 
audience at the opening of the Woods Theater. Her 
doctor said the diversion would be good for her nerves ! 
I guess he meant nerve. Anyway, she’s out. And now 
I can have time to concentrate on something amiable.” 

Miss O’Ramey looked at me. Her eyes were 
largely gray now, and I hoped she was giving me a 
spleenless concentration. I should hate to lose my job 
just as the easy spring is approaching. 

“What would you do, Miss O’Ramey, if you found 
somebody — say a sister player — concentrating against 

“I’d concentrate back at her. I love nothing bet- 
ter than a fight. I’m Irish — via Jewish.” 

“Where’d you get your comic touch?” 

“Snitched it.” 

“Stole ?” 

“Yes; swiped, snitched. I imagine I go to bed 
every night feeling much as our composer, Jerry Kern, 
does wdien he lays him down and says to himself: 
‘That fellow’s song is a go. Now, how can I snitch it 
and turn it around so as to make it a go for me?’ But 
at that, Jerry’s the only man in the world w r ho can paint 
the lily and improve it.” 

Miss O’Ramey Concentrates 


“The funny folk must love to see you in the 
audience !” 

“I don’t snitch anything from them. I never 
snitch from comedians. I’m essentially a burlesque 
woman : I learn from serious actors.” 

“I remember seeing you in Maxine Elliott’s com- 
pany when she opened her New York theater. What 
did you learn from her?” 

“What not to do.” 

“Did Mr. Woods’ five dollar remark teach you 

“It didn’t teach me anything, but it proved I had 
a blush left.” 

And over our dessert she talked about what she 
had learned from the great of stageland, from the near- 
great, and from Sir Herbert Tree. 

“Although,” she put in slyly, “I never could hope 
to be as comically Jewish as dear Sir Herbert.” 

“What did you ever learn from seeing Ethel 

“Not to let myself get fat.” 

“From Mrs. Fiske?” 

“How to enunciate.” 

“From Louis Mann?” 

“Speed — how never to kill a good part in a good 
play by dragging it out with actor’s elaboration. And 
modesty I learned from him, too.” 

“From your work in the movies?” 

“That acting is only what it seems and that 
twenty-five dollars a week is no salary for a decent 

“Did the war teach you anything, Miss O’Ramey?” 
“Yes; it taught me never to use the abominable 
word, camouflage.” 



“It was raining, w’asn’t it, on that April day fifteen 
years ago, when you first interviewed me?” said 
Georgie O’Ramey, taking the check from my side of 
the table, with a reproachful glance at the waiter. 

“Or just had been. Wasn’t there a rainbow?” 

“Of course — the rainbow! What a wonderful 
memory ! — Only two-ninety ! This is the cheapest first- 
class interview I ever had. — And it was a Wednesday. 
Think of your remembering that after all these years !” 
“What would you have said if I’d said it was a 
Saturday and snowing?” 

“I suppose I would have said, ‘Wonderful!’ I’ve 
always said,” she said, “that you have the most won- 
derful memory in the world.” 

Why Managers Don’t Love 
Mr. Bennett 

HE notes for this interview are writ- 
ten on the back of a green laundry list 
which Richard Bennett plucked from a 
nail as we went out the stage door of 
the Princess. He said it would har- 
monize with our chop suey. 

He was in high spirits. He had just died with 
pitiless realism the death of Robert Mayo in “Beyond 
the Horizon,” and the reaction was perfect. 

Mr. Bennett never cries over his own death scenes ; 
he was dry of eye and humor. On our way to the ter- 
rible dish he loves he talked lightly of fall hats, Joseph 
Medill Patterson, shaving creams, motor cars and caps, 
Joseph Conrad, Abraham Lincoln, Hinky Dink and a 
necktie board that irons ’em while you sleep. 

Confronted by his fatal dish in a dim-lit den in 
Wabash avenue, Mr. Bennett himself introduced the 
subject of American theatrical managers ; among whom 
the unpopularity of this very fine actor is almost 

“r should like,” he said, “to play in some sort of 
Oriental ‘Way Down East’ where Pd have to eat this 
stuff every performance. I never in my whole life had 
a chance to eat real food on the stage till I got in 
‘Passers-By’ — and then Alf Hayman, in the interests 
of economy, changed the property plot to read papier 


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mache. I guess he’s the tightest manager I ever 
played for.” 

“Who’s the most generous?” 

“C. F. — nobody’s as generous to the actor as 
Charlie Frohman was. He never lost by it, either. 
He’s the one manager that never lost a star.” 

We appeared (it was only an appearance) to leave 
the managers when the talk somehow shot over to 
McIntyre and Heath and their school of blackface, two 
disciples of which, I learned, owe their trade name to 
Mr. Bennett. Said he: 

“They saw my name up in the ‘Damaged Goods’ 
sign, and one says to the other, ‘Let’s grab that name 
and split it.’ You be Bennett and I’ll be Richard.’ So 
they called themselves Bennett and Richards. I see 
they’re about to go into New York in ‘Broadway Brevi- 
ties,’ along with a lot of other blackfaces — Eddie Can- 
tor, Bert Williams, George Lemaire — I don’t know how 

“I met Jolson this evening and he was telling me,” 
I told Bennett. “He said he’d just wared Lee Shubert: 
‘Hope the show is a great success. If it isn’t, you and 
Jake black up.’ ” 

“Why,” I asked him, “are you the most unpopular 
actor with the managers?” 

“The prime reason’s because I’m an actor with a 
manager’s point of view,” Bennett answered with vim. 
“I’ve proved too many of ’em wrong at their own 
game. And of course there are individual reasons; 
they’ve said things and I’ve said things — especially I’ve 

said things. Now there was Ollie Morosco ” and a 

smile haunted the plastic lip of Mr. Bennett. 

“Why doesn’t Morosco love you?” 

Why Managers Don’t Love Mr. Bennett 139 

“Because I said I’d rather be in a Henry Arthur 
Jones failure than in a Morosco success.” 

“Why doesn’t A1 Woods love you?” 

“Because I said he’d gone bed-bugs and needed a 

“Why does Broadhurst regard you coldly?” 
“Because,” smiled Bennett, “I said he’d read the 
third act of Brieux’ ‘Maternity’ to write ‘Bought and 
Paid For.’ ” 

“Why doesn’t Winthrop Ames take you to his 

“Because I also have intelligence.” 

“Why don’t the Selwyns send flowers to your first 

“Because Edgar would prefer to send them to my 
funeral. Time and again in stock in the West I’ve 
played his ‘Pierre of the Plains’ and got a bigger run 
than he got in the original New York production. I’ve 
not only done that with his play and his part, but I’ve 
told him about it.” 

“What’s Joseph Grismer got against you?” 
“Nothing but the fact that I told Alexander Wooll- 
cott, critic of the New York Times, that ‘Way Down 
East’ was made out of Charles Reade’s ‘The Course of 
True Love Never Did Run Smooth.’ ” 

“Why are you not a favorite in the Shubert 

“Jake won’t have me around because I knew his 
brother Sam when Jake was the office goat. Now Jake 
treats me and everybody else the way the office used 
to treat him.” 

“Why doesn’t Belasco love you ?” 

“But he does!” Bennett laughed; and added: 
“I’ve never played in a Belasco production.” 

It was but a step from managers to women stars, 



in many of whose services Bennett had toiled as lead- 
ing man, frequently to their great disrelish. He had a 
way of pocketing the performance. I take it that you 
remember his delicious Scotchman, played with Maude 
Adams in “What Every Woman Knows.” 

“C. F.,” he said, “would sometimes look at me 
more in sorrow than in anger and call me his star- 
killer. But one time he was glad I’d killed. 

“That was when I played with Carlotta Neilson in 
‘Diana of Dobson’s/ I got some laughter out of my 
part on the opening night, and Miss Neilson seemed to 
be paying more attention to what I was doing than to 
her own work. She fell into an emotional faint after 
the last curtain. She said I shouldn’t have got those 
laughs in a play that presented a serious episode in the 
life of a shop girl. She said on my account the play 
would have to close. 

“I saw C. F. next day and told him now I’d done it 
— insulted his star and ruined his play. 

“ ‘Dick,’ he said, ‘it’s the biggest thing you’ve ever 
done for me. I’ve just received a note from Miss Neil- 
son in which she says she’d like to withdraw. I’ve has- 
tened to accept the withdrawal. You’ve saved me from 
a five years’ contract with a temperament.’ ” 

“Dick,” I said, in the interest of history, “did 
Maude Adams like to have you around?” 

“Don’t remind me!” he sighed. “But since you 
do, I’ll tell you a telegram I sent to Maude the night 
she opened in ‘Chanticleer/ It said: 

“I congratulate you on the realization of your 
fondest ambition — at last you are your own leading 
man.’ ” 

When Sophie Tucker 
Kissed a Critic 

HAND fell heavily on my arm, and for 
an instant — I know not why — I 
thought it was the hand of my com- 
petitor and my friend, Percy Hammond 
of the Chicago Tribune. But the blow 
was followed by a laugh of equal 
weight, and even ere I turned in the crowd I recognized 
the friendly thump and laugh as Sophie Tucker’s. 

“What have I ever done to you that I should come 
to this town and play twelve weeks and never see you, 
or hear from you, or not even get a ‘Hello, Sophie!’ in 
the paper?” Sophie wanted to know. 

“Nothing, Sophie; you’ve done nothing,” I tried 
to explain — “only, things are — hem! — different. I 

wear shell rims now and don’t go to vaudeville any 
more. My editor won’t let me.” 

“That must worry you a lot!” laughed Sophie 
Tucker. “I’ve been trying to get hold of you for weeks, 
to take you out to Edelweiss on a Wednesday Bohemian 
night and show you all the actors and — and my new 
stuff. You know, I’ve reformed.” 


“Honest to God ! I don’t shout any more. I’m all 
class now. You wouldn’t believe it’s me, the subtle way 
I put a song over.” 

“Sophie,” says I, “this is terrible. When can we 
. get together and talk it over — for the paper?” 


A ctorviews 

“Right now,” says Sophie, kidnaping me, hooking 
her magnificent right in mine, cramming me into the 
crowded elevator and shooting me up seven flights to 
her hospitable pair of rooms in the Sherman. 

There were birds, fruits, flowers, music, a piano, 
bottles, photographs and a bed in Sophie’s frontmost 
room — everything you could imagine but a book. 
Sophie took the big chair and I took the bed. She 
rocked in the rocker while she talked, and sometimes 
I rocked on the springs. 

“No, sir,” she said — for emphasis more than for 
respect — “there’s no more rough stuff for me. I’ve 
canned it. It’s out — forever. I’m so damned refined 
now you wouldn’t know me.” 

“This is terrible!” I repeated inadequately. 

“Oh, I know you used to laugh your head off in the 
days when I shouted. You used to say you liked me 
best when I taught the trombone its place and made 
the electric lights flicker. But I’ve got something bet- 
ter for you now. I’ve got Art. I’ve got 

“Hel-lo darling. Come right in. There — that’s for 

And Sophie gave her own padded chair and a 
kiss to a rival dramatic critic, who had entered 

“I’m just telling him,” said Sophie to my rival, 
“that he wouldn’t know my act any more.” 

“He wouldn’t know your ‘Floradora’ number,” 
said this other critic, who knows everything. “I’ll 
have to show you the business of that song, Sophie, 
especially the business with the hat.” 

“I’ll be glad to get it,” said Sophie. “I study all 
the time I ain’t working. He wouldn’t believe the time 
I put in on a song to get it just right. — Ashton, it’s a 
fact, by the time I put on a song it’s a classic. My 

When Sophie Tucker Kissed a Critic 143 

whole act is classic, a series of classics — because I 
change my act all the time. That’s the reason I can 
play eleven weeks big time solid in Chicago at the 
Majestic and Palace and State-Lake — because I give 
’em new stuff all the time. But, oh God ! the hours of 
study it takes. Sometimes my brains just itch. 

“But it’s worth it, to get what you want and do it 
like an artist,” Sophie vowed with lighted face. “I’ve 
just picked,” she went on, “and remade a new one 
with marvelous story and lyrics. It’s called ‘The 
Soda Water Blues,’ and if it doesn’t give you the 
grandest, gloomiest laugh you ever had I’ll buy you a 
new car. All my five boys dress up for it as bar- 
tenders, and I get stewed on vanilla and chocolate. 
That’s something I’ve never done before!” 

“I tell Sophie,” said my rival, rocking easily where 
Sophie had rocked, “that she’s the ballad-monger of 
the streetwalker and the drab. No lady of the under- 
world could hear Sophie sing a heart song without 
shedding tears.” 

In the laughter which this evoked, the distin- 
guished dramatic critic for a great newspaper (for two 
cents) disappeared into Sophie’s other chamber, osten- 
sibly to telephone, but really, I fancied, to give me a 
chance alone with Sophie. 

“I wish you wouldn’t go, darling,” said Sophie; 
then to me (she didn’t darling me) : “Ashton, do you 
know I’m making more money than any woman in 
this business today?” 

“No! How much?” 

“I wouldn’t give you the figures on account of the 
income tax. But for God’s sake don’t put that in! 
They’ll be on my tail.” 

“I’ll say you said it laughingly.” 



“‘Said Miss Tucker laughingly!’ All right,” 
laughed Sophie. “They read those darn fool things 
you write. You wouldn’t believe it, the way folks 
read some of your things. Remember that interview 
you wrote with me as a singing waitress? They used 
it in my last divorce. But where am I? Oh, yes, 
money. They wouldn’t give me all this money if I 
didn’t deliver; if I didn’t have the class, the finish, 
the subtlety. I’d never got it if I’d stuck to the rough 
stuff; I’d never got anywhere or anything.” 

“Sophie, are those pearls real?” 

She unclasped the necklace and placed it in my 

“Heft ’em!” answered Sophie. 

They weighed true. Sophie’s other gauds spoke 
for themselves. Her bracelet was of diamonds, like- 
wise her watch, and her rings held single gleaming 
stones whose surfaces were smaller than a quarter 
but greater than a dime, and there was a wicked wink- 
ing one as big as a policeman’s button which heaved at 
her breast. 

“You ought to build a theater,” I said, by way of 
relieving the strain. 

“I’m going to,” said Sophie. “That’s what I’m 
going to do with some of my money. I’m going to build 
right here in Chicago the Sophie Tucker Theater and 
the Sophie Tucker Hotel and the Sophie Tucker Res- 
taurant. Why not? I’m an institution here now. My 
name is the best kind of a draw. There aren’t three 
greater money-getters in the world than a theater, a 
hotel and a restaurant, and I’ll be there with all three. 
And believe me, boy, I’ll get the first-class trade.” 

“Society ?” 

“Sure, Society. I don’t meet nothing else, hardly, 
out at Edelweiss Gardens, where I’m hostess and every- 

When Sophie Tucker Kissed a Critic 145 

thing. And it isn’t any ‘Good evening, Miss Tucker,’ 
either — it’s ‘Hello, Sophie, old dear.’ And I don’t mind 
telling an old friend like you that it isn’t everybody 
could hold that job out there. It requires a lot of 
brains and a lot of common sense and — don’t forget 
this — tact.” 

‘‘Do you dance with ’em, Sophie?” 

“I should say!” 

“How do the Society johns dance?” 

“Marvelously. They’re the kind ! They make me 
forget my married life and divorces. They treated me 
like — like the Queen of Sheba. You never saw such 
popularity. And proposals ! I never knew there were 
so many proposals.” 

“Of marriage?” 

“Whatdoyoumean ‘of marriage’ ? Of course they’re 
of marriage. You know what they call me now in this 
town ?” 

“Theda Bara?” 

“Hell, no ! They call me The Blizzard — I’ve swept 
the town so.” 

“But you couldn’t dance a little bit in the old 
days,” I was reminding Sophie when my kissed com- 
petitor joined us. 

“You weighed a ton,” said this rival critic without 

“I know; I couldn’t lift a leg when I was at the 
La Salle in ‘Louisiana Lou.’ But you ought to see me 
now, Ashton. I can dance anything that’s danced in 
two shoes. I frame some of my own steps.” 

“Write your own songs?” 

“Well — I reconstruct everything I touch. I get 
wonderful ideas, and reconstruct to fit myself. It was 
hard at first. It took brains. But it’s natural with me 



now. It’s going to tickle you to death to see how 
classical and how personal I’ve made my work.” 

“Whatdoyoumean personal?” 

“Me — myself — Sophie Tucker. I put myself into 
the words, into the story, of every song I sing. I 
dramatize myself. I’m my own heroine.” 

“Life is incomplete till you’ve heard Sophie sing 
‘I Used to Love You,’ ” observed the rival drama critic. 

“Everybody that hears me sing it thinks it’s my 
own divorce I’m singing about,” said Sophie — “I make 
it that personal. Listen” (and she slowly hymned, 
lifting a nourished shoulder to the rhythm) : 

“I used to love you, but it's all over now, 

You've got it all over town 
That you threw me down — 

But you shouldn’t let that kind of story go roun’." 

A pair of critics employed their unaccustomed 
hands to applaud. One of them told Sophie she was a 
marvel. Another that she ought to be in the movies. 

“I may try that, too,” said the undaunted Sophie. 
“I’ve had a letter from Fox, asking me to make a test 

“With lions?” I asked. 

“Whatdoyoumean with lions!” exploded Sophie. 
“But” — she seemed to reflect — “why not? What’s a 
lion or two to a woman who’s had my husbands — eh. 
old darling?” And again Sophie Tucker bestowed a 
kiss upon my rival — the incomparable Amy Leslie of 
The Chicago Daily News. 

Goodwin and Daly — 
Mostly Daly 

OW the merry party is complete!” Nat 
Goodwin groaned when I crowded 
into his dressing room at Cohan’s. 

“Just in time for the last words 
of a once brilliant comedian,” said 
Arnold Daly, who was telling the doc- 
tor wherein his associate ailed. 

“I told him,” Mr. Daly told Dr. Martin, “not to 
eat that chicken a la King.” 

“It was chicken a la Kaiser — we got it at a Ger- 
man restaurant,” Mr. Goodwin corrected. 

“I wish, Doctor, you’d throw a scare into him as 
big as a torpedo,” said Mr. Daly. “I’m losing my con- 
trol over him. Every time he’s hungry he thinks he’s 
got a right to eat. He’s the most undisciplined, unself- 
controlled ” 

“Aren’t you gentlemen speaking to each other?” 
said I ; and told them of the time I “took” an extensive 
interview with Wilson Mizner and Paul Armstrong 
without knowing, until a week later, that those amiable 
dramatists were not on speaking terms. 

“Armstrong was always not speaking to some- 
body,” said Mr. Daly. “I remember a first night of 
one of his plays when he forgot to make a speech. 
George Cohan said : ‘Armstrong’s not speaking to the 
audience to-night.' But Nat and I are on as good 
terms as are possible between a — hem ! — frugal young 
man and an old one who won’t curb his appetite.” 



“Daly is the oldest youngest actor on the American 
stage. And he loves to be interviewed. Wind him up 
and listen to him rave.” 

Of course I laughed when Mr. Goodwin said 
that; and Mr. Daly made some impertinent remark 
concerning interviewers : like press agents, they 
always get the actor to do their work for them. He 
held me by the shoulders while Mr. Goodwin toddled 
to the stage for a momentary appearance in “Why 
Marry?” and he beseeched me to read Thomas Burke’s 
just-published book of London Chinatown stories, 
“Limehouse Nights.” 

“Burke is an Irishman,” said the other one, “who 
writes in language that stains your brain. All modern 
literary men of consequence are Irish. Even the Rus- 
sians try to be Irish. I’d rather talk literature than 
politics ; I know more about them than I do of the stage 
— I’ll leave it to your friend Smith of the Chicago 
Express.” This last witheringly. 

Of course I haven’t any friend Smith and Chicago 
hasn’t any Express. But even at the peril of slightly 
misquoting Mr. Daly I am not here to have my friend 
and colleague publicly pickled in the brine of Mr. Daly’s 

“Your friend Smith of the Express,” Mr. Daly 
went on, “is peevish because I do many unconventional 
things. If I had used the methods in vogue on the 
American and English stage for the last hundred 
years, and discounted for the last fifty years in France, 
Spain, Italy, even Germany, he would not have found 
me unconventional. I fancy he obtained his ideas of 
art in Peoria.” 

“Doctor,” commented Mr. Goodwin from the door, 

Goodwin and Daly — Mostly Daly 149 

“you’d better do something for Mr. Daly ; he seems to 
need you more than I do. He’s very weak to-day.” 

“Twenty-two years ago, in this City of Chicago,” 
Mr. Daly continued with magnificent disdain, “Frank 
Mayo appeared in ‘Pudd’nhead Wilson,’ using the 
continental method of acting. As he was at least 
fifty years ahead of his time he was not considered 
a good actor — except by members of his own 

“He’s dead now, Arnold. What’s the point?” 

“I’m coming to it, you overfed voluptuary ! — Thus 
I argue that for finite criticism on any art one must 
appeal to a member of his own profession. In music 
a musician is the only judge; in sculpture, a sculptor; 
in acting, the actor. Adequately to criticize acting, the 
critic must love the theater, despite the terrific bore- 
dom of bad plays and performances inflicted on him 
and the terrific dreariness he endures — just as the 
actor, adequately to act, must love the theater despite 
its disappointments and heartaches for himself. Now, 
speaking of music — you can ask me what I think of 

“He’ll furnish his own questions, too. He’s no 
piker,” quoth Mr. Goodwin. 

“And I shall answer you as follows,” Mr. Daly 
went on serenely. “Music at best is primeval instinct ; 
every savage possesses it. I don’t mind the common 
adoration of music; I like to get drunk on it myself 
once in a while. But when a people mistakes music, 
especially opera, for culture, I am bored to extinction. 
Why, eighty-five per cent of the be jeweled attendance 
at opera only go to gape at one another. Remember 
that, will you? I’ll be back in a minute.” And Mr. 
Daly stalked stageward. 



“I’ve heard so much art talked this engagement,” 
said Mr. Goodwin, smiling through his cramp, “that 
I wonder what my mission has been for forty years. 
But Daly is a very intelligent actor — to beginners; he 
makes everything so difficult.” 

“This,” said Daly, rejoining us and leaving “Why 
Marry?” years and miles behind him, “this is a day 
of oriental imagination in which garishness is mis- 
taken for elegance. And even if the music were 
pleasant and soothing, the opera-goers would not under- 
stand it unless it made their feet tap. Like the savage, 
they must hop to sound. 

“The same queer people make up the bulk of our 
playgoers; and a play of any vital thought or real 
humor will die a-borning at their feet. The mob 
never has risen mentally above the circus and the 
pink lemonade.” 

“This,” Mr. Goodwin cut in, “is not a Goodwin- 
Daly duet; it’s an Arnold Daly solo. I don’t want to 
sound violent, but I feel I must say that the play 
or the actor that assumes to be better than its 
audience is a damned fool.” 

Mr. Daly appeared not to hear. Mr. Daly ran 
on : “That was why Shakespeare wrote ‘Mid- 

summer Night’s Dream.’ He insulted the public and 
Queen Bess — the old fish! — had they but known it. 
When he played Macbeth before her she went to sleep.” 

“Arnold was there,” said Mr. Goodwin in a melan- 
choly aside. 

“He was there mentally. Shakespeare wrote 
‘Hamlet’; and this time the old girl groaned with 
boredom. ‘God!’ cried Will, ‘I give these people up!' 
And he wrote ‘As You Like It,’ and retired to Strat- 
ford a broken-hearted man.” 

Goodwin and Daly — Mostly Daly 151 

“What’s the moral, Arnold?” 

“The moral, Nat, of all that I have said is this: 
Time may change, but boneheads never. And as for 
my unconventional acting, I may say what I have 
already intimated — I use a continental method.” 
“Mine is South Fifth avenue,” said Mr. Good- 
win, beckoning his physician, to whom he whispered 
brokenly, “Quick, Doc, the needle!” 

Miss Moores and Her Mamma 

OME DAY, when I know that one of 
these beautiful young actresses that I 
go out to interview, is going to have 
her mamma present, I’ll take my 
mamma along. And won’t that be 
nice? While the beautiful young 
acuess ana 1 talk they can play together. 

But how is one to know? You would say 
from the broad-minded drama in which Miss Clara 
Moores appears at Powers’, you would say from casual 
inspection of “Lilies of the Field” that its leading 
lady could, on a special occasion, dispense with a 
duenna. . . . Well, perhaps it’s me — L True, my 
life is an open page, but who knows what fond mothers 
read between the lines! 

Anyway, I had the best suit ironed and the 
hair bobbed, and went to the Congress to call on 
Miss Moores; and there was Mrs. Moores. And there 
stayed Mrs. Moores. She was young, handsome, and, 
I should say, dressed from Paris — meaning Mrs. 
Moores. It goes without comment that Miss Moores 
was young, was lovely, was exquisitely draped — that 
is her congenial occupation. 

And Mrs. Moores, always the anxious parent, 
asked me if I thought the Chicago authorities would 
lay the hand of the law on “Lilies of the Field.” 

“No hope !” I remember saying. And we — that is 
to say Mrs. Moores and I — talked of “Ladies’ Night” 
and other plays that have interested constables. 



But this sort of duologue could not go on forever. 
I could hear myself, in the office, saying, “I regret 
to report, Mr. Hearst, that I have no interview with 
the beauteous Clara Moores, but I offer you in its 
place seven pages of authentic chatter with Miss 
Moores’ mamma on the subject of bath-house drama.” 
That would never do. 

So, not without some violence, I forced myself on 
Miss Moores. “What’s happened,” I said, “to make 
you give such an amazing good performance? Have 
you fallen in love, or did something fall on your head, 
or what was it?” 

And the beautiful girl not only talked, she 

“I haven’t fallen in love,” she said, with an assur- 
ing glance for mamma, “and nothing’s happened to 
my head. I guess it’s just the part. And the funny 
part of that is that once I rather looked down on the 
part, and wondered that Marie Doro — they insisted 
it needed a star — would play it.” 

“You’re certainly another girl in ‘Lilies of the 
Field,’ ” I avowed. “You made me shed tears and 
laughter, too.” 

“Then it was you!” exclaimed Mrs. Moores. 
“Somebody came back and said Percy Hammond was 
down in the front row crying. I knew it couldn’t 

“No; Mr. Hammond now does all his crying in 
New York.” 

“I think it was lovely of you to feel that way 
about my performance,” said Miss Moores. “I got so 
sick of the other parts — they lasted so long. I was 
two years in ‘Bunker Bean,’ two years with William 
Hodge in ‘A Cure for Curables’ and two years with 
‘Shavings’ — my smile got petrified. No wonder Amy 

Miss Moores and. Her Mamma 155 

Leslie said it was as wooden as any of the toys Jed 
Winslow carved in ‘Shavings’ ! I got so that I prayed 
for a series of failures.” 

“She actually did pray for failures,” bore out 
mamma. “She felt she needed the experience.” 

“They usually come without praying,” said I. 
“Well, I got one,” said Miss Moores, not without 
pride. In ‘Pot Luck’ I played an old maid who had to 
advertise for a man, being as they’re so hard to get! 
— and, womanlike, fell in love with him and kept 
him. And ‘Pot Luck' was a failure despite some won- 
derful publicity.” 

Now, there are three words in the English lan- 
gauge that I roundly abhor — victuals, vex and pub- 
licity; and worst of all I hate publicity. Yet I could 
not resist asking Miss Moores what “Pot Luck’s” 
wonderful publicity had consisted of. 

“Well, you know our leading man, James Rennie, 
had just married Dorothy Gish. And it was plotted 
that one night I should faint at the end of the second 
act and that Dorothy Gish should jump in and finish 
out my performance. And I fainted — it was a scene 
where I fell into his arms, anyway — and she did.” 
“She read from the script?” 

“She did not; she had it letter perfect.” Miss 
Moores’ mamma answered for her. “But do you think, 
Clara,” she warned, “that we had better discuss the 
secrets of publicity for publication!” 

“She was supposed,” said Miss Moores, “to have 
been sitting out in front so often, to see her husband, 
that the part just stuck to her memory — that was 
the publicity. But it didn’t help business any, and 
I was able to tell the author that I guessed I drew 
about as well as Dorothy Gish. Oh, yes; do smoke 
your pipe.” 



“I know your tobacco — it’s Benson and Hedges’ 
and smells like apples.” 

“Miss Moores, you don’t mean to say that you 


Mamma cut me off with — well, I won’t say with 
a glare; there was too much amiability in her mute 
repudiation. And Miss Moores went on to explain: 
“Mr. Hodge always smoked a pipe and that kind 
of tobacco; on and off the stage. He used to carry 
a pipe in his upper vest pocket. You could smell him 
coming. Oh, not that I mind the odor! But it did 
seem extravagant when one night he complained 
because I had had garlic sausage with my dinner; 
and I determined to get even. I conspired with his 
Japanese valet and got a couple of slices of garlic 
sausage placed in his vest pocket where his pipe ought 
to have been. But you couldn’t rock Mr. Hodge 
with an earthquake. He calmly ate the sausage, and 
breathed heavily on me in our love scene.” 

“My dear,” said mamma, feelingly, “I don’t think 
you should tell these intimate things.” 

“I know they’re just what Mr. Stevens likes, and 
you know how long I’ve longed to have him write 
an interview with me. I’m going to tell him about 
the squab and William Courtenay.” 

“My dear! You can’t!” 

“Can’t I? You know, Mr. Stevens, I’d always had 
the most romantic ideas about William Courtenay; 
when I was a child he was my stage hero, and he 
kept on being my stage hero. Well, Mr. Hodge knew 
that I sort of secretly worshiped William Courtenay, 
and I don’t think he liked the idea, being a rather 
widely worshiped person himself.” 

“Women just make fools of themselves over Mr. 
Hodge,” sighed Mrs. Moores. 

Miss Moores and Her Mamma 157 

“So one night when mother and I were dining 
with Mr. Hodge at a table right near Mr. Courtenay’s, 
Mr. Hodge began behaving in the strangest manner. 
We were eating squabs; and Mr. Hodge would take 
the small bones from his squab and put them behind 
his ears, like lead pencils.” 

“My dear child! What if Mr. Hodge should see 
this terrible story in print!” 

“I don’t care if he does! He did stick the bones 
of that squab behind his ears. He did more. He 
picked up the whole bird and rubbed his chin with 

“Don’t listen to her, Mr. Stevens !” 

“And then he said, ‘I’ll make Mr. William Courte- 
nay think it’s fine company you keep !’ ” 

“My God!” said mamma. 

“Yes, it’s nice to have your mother with you,” 
Miss Moores was saying as I left. “When you 
feel sad and depressed, it’s nice to have her take you 
in her arms and tuck you in your bed. I’m still a 
baby — big, but still a baby — and I don’t know what 
I’d do without her.” 

And when I went home that night to get tucked 
in, I said: “It’s always the same. I go into a moth- 
ered interview cursing the mother, and I come out 
blessing her and wondering what I should have done 
for a story without her.” 

“Oh, there are much worse things than mothers,” 
said mine. 

Mr. Warfield Declines a Million 

AVE you come to ask me when I am 
going to play ShylockV' said Mr. 
Warfield, and said it with a twinkle. 

“Not this season; not this week, 
anyway,” I told him. “The line I just 
saw in front of Powers’ Theater 
seemed to indicate that the public still prefers you 
in ‘The Music Master.’ ” 

“The artist is the slave of his public — not his 
public the slave of the artist,” said Mr. Warfield, still 
with a twinkle. His humor-loving eyes were framed 
in rims of tortoise, his heavy gray hair brushed back 
from the Beethoven forehead. But he did not wear 
a velvet coat, nor house shoes — his feet were shod 
in substantial leather and he was coated like any 
man of the world. There was nothing “staged” about 
Mr. Warfield in his sunny furnished room for solitary 
gentlemen at the La Salle. 

“With the continued co-operation of the public,” 
he went on, “I ought one of these days to be able to 
give a satisfactory performance of Von Barwig in 
‘The Music Master.’ When I was a boy it was common 
knowledge that none of the great players ever 
achieved greatness in a role until he had played it 
thousands of times. Booth lamented the fact that 
he never got out of Hamlet all that’s in the part; and 
Salvini said the same of his Othello. 

“You know, I was pretty close to them when I 



was a boy,” says Warfield, with a tortoise-rimmed 

And, just between you and me, he would rather 
talk of the yesterday when he was a First Usher 
than of the now when he is a First Actor. But 
you and I have had him before in that fond and 
ancient role. 

“Now,” he said, “if I were to announce that next 
month, say, I would appear as Othello, it would 
create a little stir, possibly, among the theatrical 
writers. And the public would stay away from Powers 
Theater in great flocks.” 

“The box office invariably tells an actor what he 
shall and shall not play?’ I asked — not too ironically. 

“Invariably,” Mr. Warfield answered. “The public 
is the real manager of an actor, just as the public is 
the real editor of a newspaper. It’s folly, not to 
mention presumption, for an editor or an actor to 
pretend to be better than his ‘circulation.’ If men 
like me acted only what they wanted to have acted, 
and men like you printed only what they wanted to 
see in print, we’d have to have Fortunatus’ magic purse 
to keep open a theater and get out a paper. It’s our 
business — and it ought to be our art and pleasure — 
to give the public what it wants. 

“Oh, I know you hate that phrase — ‘what the 
public wants’! But who remembers even the names 
of the brilliant, art-arty publications that failed 
because they didn’t interest the public, or the actors 
that were too good for the regular, everyday drama 
of their day? Duse was the greatest actor of her day 
— bar none. And when she gave up drama for 
D’Annunzio what happened? She made the most 

Mr. fVar field Declines a Million 161 

sensational disappearance from public view of which 
the world has record." 

“You admit yourself to be roped and tied by that 
line at the box office?” I sadly queried. 

“I do, cheerfully,” he cheerfully replied. “And I 
am not this season talking Othello, or even Shylock. 
It’s you writers that are always nagging an actor on 
to play something ‘big,’ something by which he can 
be ‘measured.’ In this, old man, you yourself have 
been a great offender. 

“I played Vanderdecken for men like you,” he 
went on, the memory saddening him. “And it was 
a very expensive performance — for Belasco and me. 
We piffled a whole season away, and I worked my 
darned head off to get back the cost of the produc- 

“You’ve quit educating the public at your own 
expense? Is that it?” 

“My dear boy, it can’t be done. The very idea 
presupposes yourself as superior to the public, in both 
taste and purse. It would be snobbish, not to say 
vulgar. An actor doesn’t tell the public, he submits 
his work. What the public doesn’t want it won’t pay 
for; it is only by the public’s grace that an actor 
acts — never forget that.” 

“I have been accused of playing ‘The Music Master’ 
for the money there is in it,” he was saying. 


“Really. And the accusation is true. Even an 
actor must be recompensed. But I can convince you 
in five minutes that there’s another reason for my 
playing Von Barwig than the money.” 

“Here are your five minutes.” 



“I love the old play and I love the old part — I 
love to play it,” he said very simply. “And it’s a fine 
feeling to love something the public loves, too. I 
loved Vanderdecken, especially the ‘prayer* in the 
second act — but I was awfully lonesome in my love 
— as lonesome as I would be in pictures.” 

“Ah !” 

“Yes; and that’s how I’m going to convince you 
that the money isn’t everything. Can you keep a 
secret ?” 

“Not to-day.” 

“Then I’ll not mention the sum I have been offered 
for one year in moving pictures. But I’ll tell you that 
I declined $300,000 to appear in a single picture at 
my own convenience.” 

“Why?” faintly. 

“Because I’d rather be an actor than his photo- 

“When I laugh on the stage,” Warfield went on 
earnestly, “I’m not laughing — the audience is. 

“When I cry on the stage, I’m not crying — the 
audience is. 

“The audience is my confederate, my brother 
actor, my effect. That’s my business, my art, if you 
want to call it that. And I won’t go to the screen 
because I can’t take my audience with me.” 

“How much more profitable would a year of pic- 
tures be?” I asked him. 

“I have been offered — I have refused — a lump 
sum for a year in pictures that is greater than I could 
make in twenty successful seasons on the stage." 

The italics are mine. Mr. Warfield uttered the 
words quietly. I don’t think he likes the subject. 

“But think,” I said, “what a man of your artistic 

Mr. War field Declines a Million 163 

tastes — apart from the theater — could do with that 
year’s money!” 

“I could buy some wonderful paintings,” he 
admitted. “I wouldn’t have to travel and live in hotels 
away from home, life, wife, everything that’s dear and 
decent. For that matter, I could now — without the 
movie million — stop acting and live in idle comfort — 
so long as I didn’t buy works of art. But here I am, 
working as hard as ever I worked, and in an old play, 
because I simply can’t let go. Can you answer that?” 

I couldn’t. 

“Let me try to answer it,” he said. “When I was 
an usher boy in San Francisco I went on the stage 
because I was stage-struck — and I was hissed out of 
my own town. But I was still stage-struck. And I 
guess I still am. Probably that’s the reason I’d rather 
be an actor than his photograph.” 

The Girl from Colosimo’s 

F YOU can stand the world’s loudest 
pipe organ,” I tell Miss Dale Winter 
at the door, “I can find a corner for 
talk and supper in here.” 

“I used to be used to loud music,” 
she answers — without merriment, 
without bitterness; and now I know that she will 
speak, and let me speak, of those yestertimes before 
"Jim” Colosimo was slain in his South Side cabaret, 
where she was queen of the afternight. 

“There’s no dancing ” 

“I shan’t find fault with that,” she smiles. 

“That’s true — you didn’t used to ” 

“No,” she says, simply; “Mr. Colosimo wouldn’t 
ask me to dance with his patrons. I hardly ever danced 
. . . and so I had a lot — I still have a lot — of dancing 
to learn for my part in ‘Irene.’ I knew — or know — 
as little of dancing as I knew — or know — of acting.” 

“It’s wonderful what you’ve done with that part,” 
comes plomping out of me, still enraptured with her 
first formal first night in the town of her adoption, 
her development, her tragedy, and now her little 

“It was much more wonderful what Mr. Montgom- 
ery did,” the girl begins — and is ruthlessly interrupted 
by her interlocutor. 



“Don’t,” I cry, “make yourself sound like a trained 
Belasco actress, saying you owe everything to your 
author-manager! I know that Jimmie’s a genius; so 
does he. But I want to get you in this story and not 
my friend James Montgomery.” 

“There wouldn’t have been much of me if it hadn’t 
been for Mr. Montgomery,” she whimsically persists. 
“I was nobody — you know just how much of a nobody 
I was — when a friend took me to him in New York. 
And I shall never believe that it was anything but 
the great kindness of his heart that induced Mr. Mont- 
gomery to give me and teach me his Irene. He knew 
my story — my experience — everything. And he no 
more than I was looking for the sort of publicity 
that might have been — and was not — had. It pleased 
him to regard me as an unknown, untried seeker for 
a little place on the stage who might do something 
with a chance. He gave me the chance, and he worked 
over me — how he worked! — that I might make the 
most of it. Eight days after he gave me the part I 
played it — on a Thursday and Friday, in New York. 

“Oh, don’t think that I’m trying to tell you that 
I played it well!” she pleads, and her frank brown 
eyes under the turban of widow’s black echo the note 
of sincerity. “How could I have been anything but 
terrible with my inexperience and only eight days? 
I’ve still got a thousand thousand things to learn — 
but then there was no figure could number them. I 
was terrible. But Mr. Montgomery gave me the courage 
— and the chance — to go and make myself less terrible. 
And I’ve tried, really tried; I’ve lived nothing since 
last September but work.” 

“ It’s all a play, too,” says I. 

“Yes,” she grasps, “there is a bit of drama in it.” 

The Girl From Colosimo’ s 


“ ‘The Girl from Colosimo’s/ ” says I, giving it 
a title. 

“Of course, the strangest, the most unbelievable 
part, is that she should be Irene O’Dare of ‘Irene/ ” 
And without pause she adds: 

“I don’t think my five long years out there were 
wasted, do you?” 

I answer an emphatic “no” even as memory shuffles 
its cards and I see her again in the atmosphere 
that was Colosimo’s. It is four in the morning and 
some of the dancers reel. Hoarse women, the paint 
on their mouths awry, laugh like oboes; when they 
speak it is to say “I’ll say it is,” or “Say, dearie.” 
Red-faced young men and purplish, fat-faced older 
men talk their secrets above the moan of the lustful 
saxophone. Everybody drinks with everybody else. 
Only the waiters appear detached, each man for him* 
self; but one oath too loud, one gesture that might 
become a blow, and these piratical minions are an 
organized constabulary for peace at any price. Their 
seldom employed bum’s rush is as pretty as football 
and faster. ... A stout girl with jellying neck, an 
employe, sits at your table and drones a “blues” above 
the din ; clairvoyantly the distant band blares an 
accompaniment. Over the way at a table where amber 
wine sparkles in high glasses sits a girl of arresting 
frank-faced beauty who but for two things might be 
a slummer from the north coast — she wears no hat 
and she is not interested. She is Dale Winter, “Jim” 
Colosimo’s girl. And even the wastrel optimism of 
the place, which holds every woman guilty till proven 
innocent, sets her apart, implacably straight to “Jim,” 
a dark, groomed, nourished man who drifts from 



group to group and shines in the smoke-screened night 
like an opal. . . . She is not interested, but she is 
acutely interesting. She has more than beauty ; there 
is intelligence in her level brown eyes, intelligence and 
candor and something flamingly clean. And it is this 
clean spirit of Dale Winter’s, outspoken in her free, 
square gaze, that attracts you more than does her 
lovely voice ; which night by night, if the truth be told, 
is becoming less lovely in the unnatural battle to make 
itself heard above the thunder of the souses. Herself 
has not hardened in this hard place; but her voice? 
. . . You wonder, curiously enough, if Fate figured 
that it was saving a voice in that grim hour when 
Colosimo paid his last toll to vendetta. 

“No, Miss Winter,” I answered, “your five years 
‘out there’ weren’t wasted. But I think six would 
have killed your singing.” 

“So do I,” she agrees. “Nature is just nature 
and we can stand just so much.” 

“But I want to ask you — you had in your kidhood 
one season with a road company in ‘Madame Sherry’ — 
which was the harder, the one-night stands or — ?” 
“Nothing,” she interrupts, “nothing can be com- 
pared to those years out there. Do you realize I was 
there from five in the afternoon till six in the morning ? 
And I never drank. My brain was always clear. And 
I had — I was just a girl, like any other girl — I had 
ideals. You know at its best what a place that was 
for a girl’s ideals!” 

“You had no antidote?” 

“Well, I had work. I got up at twelve — I can 
fortunately do on very little sleep — and studied. I 
studied piano, harmony, Italian. I learned Italian, 
not only to sing but to hear. It helped out my curi- 

The Girl From Colosimo > s 


osity ; I could understand what the Italians said about 
me — unless they spoke in dialect; and they did when 
they wanted to put something over.” 

“I suppose that many a benevolent American 
gentleman offered you inducements to leave the 
place ?” 

“I was educated,” she ironically smiles, “by 
everybody in Chicago. That’s what they offered me 
to go away, rather than jewels — education. It was 
my fatal instinct to betray interest when an intelligent 
book was named. Oh, you don’t know,” her irony 
goes on, “how marvelous it was to some men to run 
across a girl out there who had read a book!” 

“Where was this proffered education to have been 

“I have been seven thousand times around the 
world,” she lightly laughs. 

“The Mr. Cooks were generous!” 

“Yes; and every Mr. Cook would assure me — 
‘Now, my dear, there are positively no strings on my 
offer; I’ll put aside so much for your education fund. 
And he would warn me, as my friend, that there were 
terrible, hideous strings on the offers of the othei 
Mr. Cooks. . . . Night after night of that. Some- 
times I used to wish that O. Henry could have seen 
and heard what I saw and heard out there when I 
sat into the dawn, sober, observing, thinking . . . 

“I don’t see how you stood it!” 

“Oh — I always had — as a last resort” — she muses 
slowly — “my sense of humor.” 

“How does it feel to come back to Chicago and 
succeed as you succeeded to-night? How does it 



feel to be The Girl from Colosimo’s grown into Irene 
of the Studebaker? Does success thrill?” I seek to 
know with a gush of, perhaps, gushing questions. 

“I should be afraid of a thrill of that kind; I’d 
suspect myself. I know, Mr. Montgomery knows, you 
know, lots of people know, how much I’ve got to 
learn before I can be anything like a real success on 
the stage. I think it’s only the self-deceiving people 
that lack the right humility in their work who thrill 
up and gloat ‘What a great fellow am I !’ Some people 
perish of applause — especially when they themselves 
lead it. It’s the ‘best seller’ that’s ruined more good 
novelists than anything else.” 

“But there must have been some pleasurable reac- 
tion to your performance to-night?” 

“I’ll tell you,” she leans over the table and says: 
“I had one of my old jolts to-night as I hurried out 
of the theater, away from the sweet clean merriment 
and romance and melody of ‘Irene.’ For the tiniest 
fraction of an instant it seemed that now I must rush 
back out there to the old place, and sing any that 
were called for of the thousand terrible tuneless, gram- 
marless ballads which I used to know so well, so piti- 
fully well. That was always my jolt after a night at 
the opera, after in imagination I had been one with 
Mimi or Cio-Cio-San or Santuzza: back to those abys- 
mal ditties. And to-night I felt the old jolt for an 
instant — and then it was good to realize that it was 
only memory playing a trick on me.” 

“You will go out to Colosimo’s some night?” 
“Oh, yes, I’ll go — some night. See that man over 
there? — the one with the bald head and the young 
girl. He seems to look like, he seems to typify, the 
old place. Oh, the thousands of him I’ve seen!” She 
laughs; real laughter; her eyes laugh, too. 

The Girl From Colosimo’s 171 

“The years out there weren’t wasted if they 
taught you how to laugh,” says I. 

“There’s laughter and laughter,” the Widow Colo- 
simo philosophizes. “If I had learned to laugh 
unkindly the corners of my mouth would be turned 
down now.” 



Mr. Arliss Speaks of Mr. Archer 

HE George Arliss who thrills and chills 
you with his murderous Rajah of 
Ruhk in “The Green Goddess,” is, 1 
need hardly tell the children, a some 
what different gentleman in his sunny, 
windowed chamber at the Edgewatei 
.becum nuiei. Here, without straining the imagination 
you might take him for an English schoolmaster with 
a dozen capital letters after his name. Here, without 
giving the organ of speech too large an order, you 
might address him as Professor Arliss. 

Anyway, you can't imagine yourself bouncing into 
the room and slapping him on the back and crying, 
“Hello, George!” And as for, “Hello, Georgie!” — 1 
don’t think George Arliss’ own father would dare. 

Not that I wanted to! Bless you, I’ve known 
him only twenty years. And he was ever thus — an 
angular man of great deliberation and great dignity 
and burnished address, who is saved from pomposity 
by a gentleman’s modesty and a sense of humor which 
is all the finer for being somewhat shy. 

But speaking of his deliberation — and we were 
speaking of it, he and I — I remember he told me he 
took positively no chances with the unprepared on a 
first night; which declaration I interpreted to include 
his curtain speeches, which are the smoothest and 
roundest and most literate I have ever heard over the 
fire of the footlights. And, I hasten to assure the 



reader, it is with trepidation that I begin to punctuate 
this report with inverted commas ; for I am no stenog- 
rapher, my more or less trained memory has its 
limitations, and my small gifts for composition could 
not hope to make me write as Oxfordly as Pr — as Mr. 
Arliss talks. 

“Nothing could induce me to wear a clean collar 
on a first night,” he was amazingly saying — for no 
man’s linen looks purer than Arliss’. “On a first night 
I take no chances on anything,” he went on, explaining 
“The shirt, the studs, even the collar I wear must 
have been rehearsed. 

“If the collar balked at being buttoned” — I am 
not positive that he said balked, but that was the 
sense and it will serve — “I might be thrown into a 
state of disastrous nervousness. On a first night a 
faulty buttonhole is enough to unsettle one’s nerves. 
My man, who has been with me twenty years, knows 
that it would be more than his life is worth to give 
me fresh linen for an opening.” 

But we had not met to talk about his buttonholes, 
nor did we do so in more than passing. 

I had said, in a notice of his new play at the 
Great Northern, that it doesn’t seem within the possi- 
bilities for Mr. Arliss to give a richer characterization 
until he acts I ago, adding (in a year in which every- 
body is doing or threatening to do Shakespeare), “And 
why shouldn’t he act Iago?” 

And now I said: “Have you ever tried Iago?” 

“No ; in fact, I’ve never played Shakespeare,” was 
the astonishing answer of an actor whose suggested 
background would imply many a bout with the Bard. 
“Somehow I always just missed Shakespeare.” And 
then we spoke of Warfield and his Shylock, and I told 

Mr. Arliss Speaks of Mr. Archer 175 

Arliss with what humility and hard work Warfield 
approached the part. 

“I can understand that,” he said. “If I evei 
played Shakespeare it would be with the fear of God 
in my heart, the fear of making an awful hash of it.” 
And he went on to say that an actor’s actual perform- 
ance frequently was not his original conception of 
the part ; because an actor’s performance was restricted 
by his physical appearance. 

“ Iago , I always feel,” he said, “should have brawn 
and muscle. I see Iago as quite a pleasant kind of 
villain — a big soldier, rather charming to look at, and 
not trying to be too damned subtle. But when an actor 
tries to make himself physically different from the way 
Nature molded him he’s losing the most valuable 
thing he brings to the stage — himself. No thin man,” 
he epitomized, “can play a fat part convincingly.” 

“Did you ever see Tree’s Falstaff?” 

“Entirely unconvincing,” said Arliss, shaking his 
head from side to side more in criticism than sorrow. 
“He was a very lean man when I saw his Falstaff, 
and I could always, as with the aid of an X-ray, see the 
thin Tree through the fat stomach.” 

We talked of Tree in happier parts than Fal- 
staff . . . and of Mrs. Patrick Campbell (with whom 
Arliss first came to these not inhospitable shores) in 
wittier roles than that of autobiographer. 

Her comment on Max Beerbohm’s thicker-than- 
water family-story biography of Sir Herbert Beer- 
bohm Tree, “Why didn’t they call it ‘Our Father 
Which Art in Heaven’?” he recited with delicious 
brevity. And in the fewest possible words he narrated 
her answer to George Alexander’s request that his 
incorrigible colleague please refrain from laughing at 



him on the stage: “I never laugh at you on the stage; 
I always wait till I get home.” 

“She could not resist uttering a witticism when 
it flashed to her lips,” said Arliss, ever her admirer, 
“but she was never unkind in her heart; she would 
be witty only to be sorry when her jests were spread 

And I told Arliss of a day long ago, when, cross- 
ing the bay from Oakland to San Francisco, Mrs. Camp- 
bell’s press agent, poor devil, had pointed out a rocky 
peril to navigation and told her it was called Goat 
Island. To which she had replied, “Ah, your birth- 
place.” A minute later, I told Arliss, she was implant- 
ing the prettiest flower in her corsage in the press 
agent’s buttonhole. 

“The words and the deed,” said he, “are irresis- 
tibly like her.” 

George Arliss, I found, talks of himself but fru- 
gally. In what he tells he is habitually the witness, the 
innocent spectator bystanding spinsterly. 

And his best talk, for me, was about the author 
of his very fine melodrama; about William Archer, 
that permanently sane dramatic critic who first 
brought Ibsen into English and eventually made us like 
it if only in Ibsenic dilution, and then wrote a book on 
play-making, and finally, in the sixty-fifth year of his 
age, followed the book and made it good with the best 
drama of adventure since “Secret Service.” Listen to 
this Archer story. I think it is a perfect thing, if I do 
not make too much of a hash of the perfect words in 
which Arliss told it. 

“William Archer,” said he, “is the most retiring 
man I know ; and he looks it. He is a formal man, too. 
He is never without a dark suit, a bowler hat and an 

Mr. Arliss Speaks of Mr. Archer 177 

umbrella. Well, I had asked him to visit me at a little 
cottage I’ve got near Dover. ‘Don’t bring dress clothes,’ 
I cautioned him — ‘I’m almost the oldest inhabitant, 
and I’ve never seen any here.’ 

“Archer and I were walking across country to 
the bay, talking about the national theater which he 
would like to see established in England and which 
I’d like to see over here; Archer wearing his black 
suit and his bowler hat and carrying his inevitable 
umbrella, although it was as fair an August day as 
could be. It was, in fact, the August bank holiday, and 
crowds were down. But the waves were very high 
and nobody was bathing. That is to say, there were 
no swimmers out but a couple of idiots. 

“I remarked what asses they were as Archer and 
I went on talking about our national theaters. Then 
I noticed that one of the asses was in what looked like 
serious trouble; he couldn’t get through the waves to 
the shore. 

“I rushed to a nearby shed — a sort of life-saving 
station. But the hour was noon, and evidently nobody 
was allowed to drown during the lunch hour, for the 
shed was deserted and I couldn’t find as much as a 
piece of rope. I discovered, however, a pole, of the 
kind used for shrimping, and with this I turned to the 
water. And there I saw that somebody had gone to 
the rescue and was bringing out the poor idiot, all 
but drowned. 

“I turned and looked for my companion, but could 
see him nowhere. ‘He’s most likely with that little 
crowd giving first-aid to the idiot,’ I said to myself, 
and walked to the little crowd — from which Archer 
emerged just then, looking for something on the 

“His dark suit was perfectly buttoned, and at first 



J didn’t notice that it was wet, because being wet all 
over it didn’t look wet at all. He said, quite calmly, 

I say, have you by any chance seen my umbrella?’ 

“I told him not to mind the umbrella, that what 
he needed was a whiskey and a change. I said I 
■•ouldn’t fit him with a suit, but to come along and I’d 
give him some dry underthings. ‘I’ve got another 
suit with me, but I must find my umbrella — it may 
come on to rain,’ said my dripping friend. And then, 
finding it, he immediately picked up where we’d left 
off talking national theater: ‘You were saying, Arliss, 

about that plan of yours ?’ ” 

“It’s a classic!” I cried. 

“There’s just a bit more,” said Arliss, his perfect 
manners absorbing the graceless if well-meant inter- 
ruption. “While Archer was in his room, changing, a 
party of visiting Americans, hearing that I had a cot- 
tage in the neighborhood, motored over to have a look. 
We were exchanging a few words in the living room 
when one of the visitors, taking out his watch, said, 
‘Why, it’s one-thirty, and must be your luncheon 
hour; we’ll be going.’ 

“And at that instant William Archer entered the 
room — in complete evening dress. He was such a 
modest hero that I didn’t keep them to explain. And 
he wasn’t a strong swimmer, either, I found out, but 
not afraid of the waves, he told me, from much bathing 
in Norway. No ; I didn’t explain Archer’s wonderful 
midday costume, and I’ve often wondered what my 
American visitors thought.” 

“A wonderful story, Mr. Arliss, of a wonderfully 
cool man. I wonder if anything could heat him?” 

“I saw him heated, as you say, once. You know 
how exceedingly clever Winthrop Ames is at lighting 
a stage. He will spend hours and days perfecting a 

Air. Arliss Speaks of Mr. Archer 179 

single effect. At the last but one of the dress rehearsals 
of ‘The Green Goddess’ he was dissatisfied with the 
lights and said he would rehearse them separately next 
morning. I went down to the theater to watch. And 
while we were there Archer telephoned to Ames, whose 
secretary answered and said: 

“ ‘Mr. Ames and Mr. Arliss are at the theater, 
relighting the last act.’ 

“And” — Arliss chuckled noiselessly — “and Archer 
misunderstood the word relighting. He thought we 
were doing something else to his play and came down 
very, as you say, heated.” 

My Favorite Leading Lady 

PUT a white carnation in my button 
hole and with some misgivings went 
over to Mr. Cohan’s Grand Opera 
House to call on my favorite leading 

“She admires you,” Harry Ridings 
my blushing face. “And not alone for 
what you’ve written about her. Ha ! ha ! she saw you 
in a box one night and — well, frankly, old man, she 
likes your looks. Better wear the pearl gray derby!” 

But of course I didn’t go that far. But I’ll own 
now that I wished mightily that it had been a brighter 
day so I could have worn the new straw. There i3 
always something jaunty, not to say youthful, about 
a straw. 

However — the carnation was crisp, the shoes 
newly browned, the trousers nattily ironed, the hair 
freshly trimmed and looking, I hoped, not too pearly 
grayish, and nobody but the stage fireman would know 
the gloves had been cleaned. I looked my best and 
wanted to when Mr. Caldwell — Mr. Caldwell B. Cald- 
well himself — took me back stage during the matinee 
of “A Prince There Was” to meet my favorite of all 
the leading ladies. 

“Even at the risk of betraying a secret,” he was 
telling me on the way, “I think you ought to be in- 
formed that this young lady is tremendously interested 
in you. Only last night she was asking Grant Mitchell 
if you had a car. Her mother said ” 


A ctorviews 

“She has a mother!” 

“Yes, the kind you’ll love.” 

“Mr. Caldwell, I promised my own sainted mother 
that never again would I write an interview that had 
a stage mother in it. The Mrs. Janises of the drama 
and I don’t harmonize.” 

“I respect your emotions, Mr. Stevens. Let me go 
ahead and get this lady away. I promise you there’ll 
be no chaperon.” 

Mr. Caldwell kept his word and light-heartedly I 
went to my fate. 

“That’s your chair,” she said, denoting the other 
one by her dressing table. She gave its white lawn 
covering a little pat. That made it very comfort- 
able, I told her — wasn’t I the rogue? 

“It’s been waiting for you ever since the night you 
smiled from the box and I smiled back . . . ever so 
long. But it knew you’d come.” She turned full spell 
ahead the allure of two wide, gray-blue eyes. 

“I fear you’re a flirt,” I told her faintly. 

“Is this flirting?” Her lids were lowered. “I 
thought it was just being happy and natural. Mr. 
Caldwell told me I could be that way with you. What 
kind of a critic was it he said you are? Now I remem- 
ber! — very human. He said you were very human. 
Are you?” 

“Awfully,” I said — “but don’t tell anybody how 

“I won’t. Then we’ll have a secret. And I won’t 
even tell that we have a secret. So that’ll make two. 
Aren’t we getting on? But I knew I’d like you!” 

“How’d you know?” 

My Favorite Leading Lady 


“Oh, first I knew from what you wrote. But I 
knew better from the way you looked. I said to 
mamma : ‘Hold me tight — that man has a way of look- 
ing right into my heart.’ Then Grant Mitchell told 
me that you had smoked a cigar in his dressing room 
and told him that of all the leading ladies you’d ever 
seen I was — I was the most lovable. Why did you tell 
him that?” 

“Because it was true.” 

“But think of all the leading ladies you’ve seen! 
You must have loved some of them. Honest, now?” 
“Um — I loved their work . . . some; yes.” 
“You don’t mean you don’t like my work! Tell 
me where to make it better and I’ll try.” 

“No! I love it.” 

“Why do you love it, Mr. Critic-Man?” 

“Because it’s just you yourself and nobody else.” 
“I’m glad I’m me,” my favorite leading lady 
whispered, and caught up my hand and for an instant 
held it hard. 

“How many times have you been in love?” I was 
asking her. 

“Lots. My mother says I’m a different girl when 
there’s a man around. But I guess all girls are. . . . 
I had an awful crush on George M. Cohan. He had a 
way of looking into my heart, too. And he was so gen- 
erous. Once he gave me twenty dollars.” 


“Oh, another time he gave me fifty dollars, all in 
gold. ‘Maybe you can get yourself a little wrist watch 
with it,’ he said.” 

“Didn’t your mother ?” 

“She doesn’t like me to accept money from men. 
She said she wouldn’t let me go to Robert Hilliard’s 



house any more if he was going to give me ten dollars 
every time.” 

“Do all your sweethearts give you gold?” 

“Mr. Mitchell never did. One time he gave me 
some beautiful peach blossoms with lovely delicate 
petals. They were the sweetest gift any man ever 
gave me.” 

“Then a fellow doesn’t have to be rich to make 
you happy ?” 

“Dear, no! Chauncey Olcott never gave me any- 
thing while I was playing with him — not until after- 
wards — and I loved him best of all. It isn’t gifts that 
make love.” 

“What is it that makes love?” 

“I think I could answer that better if — would 
you? — if you let me sit on your knee.” 

Nothing could have made me say no. 

She sat on my knee and whispered in my ear : 

“Now I’ll tell you what makes love. It’s a hug 
like this.” Her arms were round my neck. “And a 
kiss.” Her lips impulsively crushed mine. 

And don’t think I resisted! I hugged back and 
kissed back — and then ran to write it down. Which 
can be done because my favorite leading lady, Marie 
Vernon, was eight on her last birthday. 

Mr. Jolson Acts Up for His Bride 

TOLD her I was a panic,” laughed A1 

It is not the opening night of 
“Bombo,” but it is another big night 
at the Apollo for Mr. Jolson. Mrs. 
Jolson, the new one, Miss Ethel Del- 
mar that was, Miss Delmar that danced so Spanishly 
in George White’s “Scandals” last year, is out in front. 
She has just come to town and is taking her first 
glimpse of her husband’s second-year production, the 
most ambitious of his career. 

And the world’s greatest singing comedian is 
tuned a semitone above concert pitch and riding on 
his nerves. He is best that way. Calm Jolson and 
you clam him. When he’s right, as the ring men say, 
there’s a touch of hysteria. 

There’s a palpable touch now; a singing quality 
in his talking, lots of white to his soot-circled eye, and 
a handshake so hot it stings me. 

I sit in his dressing room to look and to listen, 
feeling that there will be little need to question here. 

“I told my wife I was a panic — over the long- 
distance. ‘I sang tonight like Titta Ruffo,’ I told her, 
‘and the jokes rolled out of me like money from a mint.’ 
‘Yes,’ she kidded me back. ‘I suppose there isn’t 
another show in Chicago.’ Then I rang up Jake Shu- 
bert, in New York. ‘There must be something the 
matter,’ I said; ‘they like us; not only me, but your 



show’ Then, still talking to New York, I got the 
receipts on White’s ‘Scandals’ — not so good. That 
show can play to twenty-five thousand a week and 
make only sixteen hundred; which gives me only 
about a dollar sixty for my share. Wouldn’t I like to 
have ‘Bombo’ guaranteed twenty-five hundred a week 
for the next nine years! — even though we’ll go close 
to forty thousand this week.” 

‘‘Since when have you had a share in the 
‘Scandals?’ ” 

“Since I said I’d guarantee the salary of Paul 
Whiteman’s band; I thought it would be just as cheap 
to own a piece of the show,” he grins. “Besides, 
everybody was panning White — you know how arro- 
gant he can be. You ought to hear him tell his actors 
how to ‘inflect’ this word, and ‘deflect’ that one, and 
how to give a ‘richer reading’ to a line. When I tried 
to tell him one of his ‘readings’ was all wrong, he said, 
‘Al, what do you know? You’ve been with the Shu- 
berts all these years.’ So I just naturally had to back 
him to the extent of — well, anyhow, I made a dollar 
sixty last week.” 

“Don’t ever leave the Shuberts or you’ll be lost for 
a joke,” I warn him. 

“They’d be losing a pretty good joke, too. But 
you should have seen me at the out-of-town tryout, get- 
ting ready for the Chicago opening. We’d been closed 
six weeks, and I had to go out and get shoes for the 
girls! There wasn’t a Shubert to help me within fif- 
teen hundred miles. But when the tryout was over I 
could wire my wife that Pewterville thought we were 
great. She wired back : ‘Pewterville’s the place where 
they think the Kentucky Derby’s a hat.’ ” 

“I’d like to meet that lady!” 

“You wall. She’ll be back here after the show. 

Mr. Jolson Acts Up for His Bride 187 

She’s smart. She ain’t so damned smart, though,” he 
adds, as one who could temper praise with justice. 
“She thought she was a clever actress. Ha!” 

With that he goes stageward, leaping. And I am 
left alone with him that knows Jolson closer than a 
brother; with Frank Holmes, who has dressed him 
ever since Jolson has been able to afford a dresser. 

“How long have you been together?” I ask Frank, 
a great artist in his line, whose hair has grown grey 
for two. 

“Twelve years. We started together in the first 
Winter Garden show, before he was a star. I was in 
the chorus and dressing Melville Ellis; and Ellis says, 
‘Don’t bother about me this opening night; I’ve got 
only a dress suit to put on ; go and see what you can do 
for Jolson.’ And I went and never came back. 

“ ‘You stay in here and dress here and dress me,’ 
said Jolson. ‘I’ve always paid a boy five dollars a 
week’ — he never overlooks a business bet, Mr. Jolson 
don’t — ‘but you’re a good boy and I’m going to give you 

“That was twelve years ago, when I started to 
dress him. Now I do everything — the letters, the bills, 
the photographs, take care of the money, everything. 
I prepare the checks, I prepare everything — he just 
signs where I tell him. And I see that everything’s 
paid on the first of the month whether he likes it or 
not. I don’t think he owes five hundred dollars ; which 
is remarkable for a man who makes almost half a mil- 
lion a year, counting royalties and everything. And I 
keep his nerves down. Every first night I tell him 
the old team’s bound to win ; and it does.” 

The other half of the team comes back somewhat 
let down. They are still applauding him out in front 



of the stage, but Mrs. Jolson’s bridegroom is not satis- 
fied with himself. 

“My humor’s gone,” he moans. “They knocked 
down a scene and my jokes went with it. And then 
that girl — you know, Frank — just as I was going on, 
stopped me to know if she was going to get that ten 
dollar raise. I can’t think of jokes when I’m reminded 
of money. You know, I’m no Will Rogers; jokes don’t 
come to me one a minute. Say, did you see what the 
critic of the New York Times said about Frank Tinney 
being funnier to him than Wynn, Errol, Cantor, Stone, 
Rogers and Jolson all put together? I wanted to 
answer that. Oh, it was all right for me. But not for 
Rogers. He’s the wittiest man in the world.” 

Without a word concerning them, without a look 
at them, Jolson signs some eight or ten checks which 
the faithful Frank has been filling out. “I’ll bet my 
wife says I’m rotten tonight,” he sighs as he signs. — 
“Hello, Gimpey!” he cries with returning life, address- 
ing a youth in the door, whose rakish slant suggests 
race tracks, faro banks, song publishment, politics and 
case goods. And to my great delight I am privileged 
to shake the hand of Colonel Gimp. 

“My favorite gunman,” says Jolson, confiden- 
tially. “If there’s anybody you want bumped off, he’s 
a friend as is a friend. — Did you see the missus out 
in front, Colonel? Yes, looking fine — daring me to 
make good. She’s got two regular seats, paid for plus 
Couthoui and everything. — Say, Frank, don’t forget to 
telephone tonight to Mrs. Jolson in San Francisco. — 
That’s Mrs. Jolson number one. She writes to Frank. 
— Be sure you tell her I say not to sell the place. And 
those deer heads — tell her to keep ’em. — Trophies of 
some shooting I did in Mendocino. — And you find out 
if there’s anything she needs ; and she can have it — any- 

Mr. Jolson Acts Up for His Bride 


thing. — Great theater, this Apollo Theater. Beautiful. 
Ever see the Jolson Theater in New York? Big as a 
stable and you have to have a team of Eskimo dogs 
to find it. A fellow bought two seats for it at Tyson’s, 
and returned them and wanted his money back; said 
he couldn’t get in ; said they threw him out on his ear. 
They cross-examined him and discovered he’d tried to 
get into a secret convention at Carnegie Hall. Now 
I’m going back on that stage and give an imitation 
of a comedian trying to make his wife laugh.” 

“He’ll work his head off with her out there,” 
grieves Frank. “You know, deep down in his heart, 
he’d rather be an opera singer than the greatest 
comedian in the world. He’s music-mad. And can’t 
read a note of it, not a note. And composes, too. He 
said to me at Palm Beach, ‘Here, Frank, you remember 
this tune while I go in swimming’ ; and he sang it to 
me. I drew five lines on my cuff and put down dots; 
and when we got back to town one of his scorers wrote 
it out right.” 

Frank throws a wig onto his own head, climbs 
into a pair of turkey red pants, and goes right on: 
“Now I’ll stop writing checks and counting money and 
do some acting myself. I haven’t got a real part in this 
show; just a bit where I carry on the bucket and he 
kicks me off — those big spouting parts are too much for 
me. Be back soon.” 

The Colonel comes in from his post by the dressing 
room door, and I am rapidly learning to love him when 
Frank returns, breathless, saying: 

“Thirty seconds and my performance is over. 
Just long enough to be on the Shubert pay roll. He 
likes to have me on the stage, if only for a minute. On 
or off, I absorb a lot of his nervousness. I always tell 



him what’s the matter when something goes wrong on 
the stage. I always tell him something. When there’s a 
crash I tell him it was a rope broke. You can’t argue 
with a rope. But a lot of those people in the company 
don’t understand my work ; they think I’m his spy and 
don’t trust me. They ought to realize that the fewer 
tales I tell him the easier it is for me all round. I’d do 
anything to keep him from worrying. I wouldn’t dress 
anybody but Jolson, nobody else that lives. I wouldn’t 
have to. I’d go home to Hohokus, N. J., and be a big 
fellow. I’ve got a farm there, and sometimes the 
mayor consults me on important business questions. 
Here he is.” 

Meaning not the mayor of Hohokus, but Mr. Jol- 
son of “Bombo.” And he is laughing. 

“It’s funny they should laugh at that!” Jolson 

“At what, Al?” 

“At me saying, when they asked what I was doing 
aboard Columbus’ boat — at me saying I was a 
compass-reader. It just came to me. And how they 
laughed! Even my wife laughed. Is there such a 
thing as a compass-reader?” 

“Maybe not, but it is funny.” 

“Funny where the funny things come from, isn’t 
it? Now, my wife says funny things — too damn 
funny, sometimes. When I wired her that I was hav- 
ing a hard time keeping off the heiresses at Palm Beach, 
she wired back that it wasn’t any too easy side-stepping 
the millionaires in Pittsburgh. But thank God she’s 
no longer an actress! ‘You’ve no right to be on the 
stage, with your ideas!’ I told her. I’d just bought her 
two new dresses — oh, the very best — and what does she 
do but meet two girls she knew and give ’em to ’em.” 

Mr. Jolson Acts Up for His Bride 191 

“But the girls were poor,” softly upspeaks Colonel 
Gimp ; “they didn’t have anything.” 

“I know!” cries Jolson’s high tenor. “But I 
know a place where I could have bought ’em dresses for 
twelve dollars.” 

The performance of “Bombo” is over; we can 
hear the song-sellers peddling on the pavement above. 
Jolson, washed white, dresses briskly against the 
arrival of Mrs. Jolson and her verdict. 

“Is she ever going back on the stage?” 

“Not if I can help it,” he vows. 

“How’d you get her to leave it?” 

“The booking offices agreed with me. She was 
out with a Kipling act, playing Mogli, the elephant’s 
friend. She was getting twelve hundred fifty for the 
act and paying out thirteen hundred fifty. She had 
high-priced animal actors out of the ‘Follies’ jumping 
around and listening to her say, ‘Do you love meh?’ I 
sneaked into one of Proctor’s houses and saw the act 
without her knowing it. She did a fall that day — and 
lit on her head. And I laughed. And she heard about 
that laugh. Sssh! For God’s sake! — Come in, sweet 
woman !” 

She comes, and, believe him, she is sweet! A dark, 
sweet girl in a dark gown, and gloriously unpainted. 
Twinkling dark eyes I see, and a twinkling mouth — 
with gum in it. 

“Put it out!” from Jolson. 

“It’s one of the few pleasures I have left,” sighs 
his wife. 

“Well?” from Jolson. 

“Yes, I’m quite well,” from his wife. 

“Well, how was it? Did you like me?” 

“Yes but you work awfully hard,” says she with- 


A ctorviews 

out a comma. “I don’t see how you’re going to keep 
it up.” 

“Is that all you got to say? It’s a hot night; that’s 
why I’m all perspiration.” 

“Baby, you work too hard! You’ll kill yourself! 
You need a team or something in there toward the last, 
to rest you.” 

“Colonel, you know that girl we saw dance in the 
cabaret? See her to-night and tell her I’ll give her a 
hundred a week to fill a spot in the last act. If the 
Shuberfs won’t stand for it I’ll pay her out of my 
pocket. — That settles that, Ethel. And now, apart 
from the hard work, how was I? Eh?” 

“First — answer me one question.” 


“Where,” she ironically laughs, “did you get all 
the beautiful chorus girls?” 

“You devil !” 

“Apart from that, Albert, you were great.” 

And I go away telling myself that it is easier for 
an actor to be a hero to his valet than to his wife. 

Melting the Ice With 
Miss Lynne Fontanne 

AURETTE TAYLOR started this. 

Now, I have known Miss Laurette 
Taylor since she was a tender child in 
wild western melodrama — since she 
was very young and even I was 

And the other week, when she and I and the other 
man — J. Hartley Manners, the one she married — sat 
at dinner between all-star performances of Mr. Man- 
ners’ “Out There,” Miss Taylor regaled him with a tale 
of our youth. Thus: 

“I was very poor then, Hartley. I had only one 
new hat. I had it on. I was in a cab with a prema- 
turely gray-haired dramatic critic, who had been din- 
ing beyond his means. At any rate, he was won- 
drously illuminated. 

“And you can imagine my horror, Hartley, when 
presently he held — I shall tell the whole truth, no mat- 
ter what the cost! — held and squeezed my hand. 

“I should have leaped from the cab and thrown 
myself upon the protection of a gendarme. . . . But 
I could not, Hartley. Think what you will, but I could 
not. For it was raining dogs and cats and I had on 
my only new hat.” 

When Mr. Manners had done laughing, his wife 
said that, now that my gray hair is no longer prema- 


A ctorviews 

ture and I have ceased to dine beyond my means, I 
must, positively must, know her bosom friend and asso- 
ciate actress, Miss Lynn Fontanne, who would soon be 
coming along to the Studebaker Theater in “A Pair of 

“You will love each other,” she said with an 
enthusiasm that sounded almost prophetic. “But you 

mustn’t But of course, you wouldn’t squeeze a 

girl’s hand now — at your time of life !” 

Cyril Harcourt, who wrote the delectable petticoat 
comedy, took me to Miss Fontanne, cursing Britishly 
the unsweetness of the alley that led to the stage door. 
It was a devil of a path, said he, for gentlemen of 
breed and learning — what? 

Again he cursed the muck of the alley. “I’m no 
bloomin’ Verlaine,” he said, quickly following it with, 
“Of course, you’re not! — Not quick enough then, 
Stevens; I had to say it for you!” 

He introduced me to Norman Trevor, who shares 
his dressing room and is so much like Trevor’s acting 
that I shall never be able to tell you where the mime 
leaves off and the man begins. 

Mr. Harcourt was for organizing a select and 
patriotic party to go out to the park and smear the 
yellow paint of disesteem all over a certain statue 
there that has the tactless untimeliness to be German. 
But just then we ran into Miss Fontanne, who had 
barely time to ask me to tea on the morrow — and as 
these words are written the German statue still stands 
unstained, although I don’t fancy Lloyds’ is writing 
any insurance on its complexion. 

But this is a long way round to Miss Fontanne, 
who was in her living room at the Stratford next day, 

Melting the Ice With Miss Lynne Fontanne 195 

surrounded by several thousand books — shelves on 
shelves, from carpet to ceiling. 

“Yours, Miss Fontanne?” 

“Dear, no! A journalist had these rooms before 
Miss Hanaford and I took them. What curious things 
you American journalists read.” 

I examined, and the first title that struck my eye 
was “Ask Mamma.” 

“That ought to be helpful,” I blithered brightly. 
Her cool brown eyes were searching me for I knew not 
what; her well-drawn nose and chin were held a bit 
high ; she was as crisp as lettuce ought to be, this trig, 
smart, lean, little English girl. 

“How about the one next to it, ‘Why Be Fat?’ ” 

I looked. It was really there. Such a silly book 
for such an unfat lady! It was most ridiculous. We 
laughed together and the ice was cracked — some of it. 

“English, aren’t you?” Miss Fontanne smiled. 

Was she spoofing me? 

“No; Californian.” 

“Oh. Perhaps it’s your clothes,” she considered. 

“What’s the matter with them? Don’t they fit?” 

“Not too well. Most American clothes fit a bit 
too well to — er — be quite casual, don’t you think?” 

Was she spoofing? “Gee, those English!” I 
thought with the American in Harcourt’s comedy of 
charming bad manners — where Lynn Fontanne plays 
so charmingly at being a cat. 

“Miss Fontanne,” I said, “I may not look it, but 
I’m terribly shy.” 

“Really?” I thought her eyes softened. 


“Well, then, I don’t mind telling you that so am 
I. I’m so shy that sometimes it just hurts. And this 


A ctorviews 

was one of the times. That’s why I began to interview 
you ... in self-defense . . . understand?” 

Of course I did. More ice was cracked. 

“It was my shyness and hers,” she told me, “that 
brought Laurette Taylor and me together. She 
was the rage in London. Everybody was invited this 
day — even me. But of course I wasn’t to be intro- 
duced . . . only the great were, my hostess said. 

“But when I saw Laurette sitting there terrified — 
there’s no other word — I forgot my own terror in sym- 
pathy. I sat down by her and said wasn’t it hideous 
being terrified in a crowd? And she said wasn’t it? . 

. . and brightened directly I told her I was an actress, 
too, of a sort . . . she’d thought I was just ‘society.’ 
She asked what I’d done, and I told her I’d played the 
part of many ages in ‘Milestones,’ and played in ‘My 
Lady’s Dress,’ and she’d seen both plays and — well, 
then and there she asked me to come to America and 
play with her. She thought I’d be useful in repertory. 
Of course, I didn’t know she really meant it — then. 

“Do you know her?” she asked me suddenly. 

“I’ve met Miss Taylor,” I answered, within the 

“Did you find her very shy?” 

“Yes; quite — I might say very shy.” 

“You’re not the American journalist -who? — But 
answer me this : Were you ever in a cab with her?” 

“ Now I know you!” 

What little ice was left had melted. 

“Write here,” she said, indicating the top of a 
page of my “copy” paper; “write here and we’ll make 
it a joint letter.” 

Melting the Ice With Miss Lynne Fontanne 197 

I took the pen and wrote : 

“Dear Laurette Taylor: Behold your protegee, 

Miss Lynn Fontanne, in the degrading act of being 
interviewed by the man who tried to hold your hand 
in a cab one rainy night when you preferred your 
hat ” 

“Stop there!” Miss Fontanne commanded. 
“Laurette registers — no need to rub it in.” 

She took the pen and addend these words to the 
letter : 

“But have no fear, dearest. We are not in a cab — 
and it is not raining.” 

She gave me back the pen and bade me continue. 
I wrote: 

“Her performance in the Harcourt comedy is 
really wonderful. But what I meant to say is this. 
I’m free — for the time — and I wonder what she’d say 
if I asked her out to dinner?” 

Miss Fontanne took the pen and quickly composed : 

“And I’m free — for the time — and very hungry, 
for I missed my lunch. And we could walk — if it 
doesn’t rain. Yes? What?” 

“Sign it!” she ordered. 

“You first.” 

“Always yours, darling — Lynn,” she put down. 

“Yours respectfully, ditto — A. S.” I subscribed — 
and telegraphed the collaboration to Miss Taylor’s 
abode in New York. 

The evening papers came up. The forecast was 
for light showers. 

Yes, and we had an interview, too. Not a very 
large interview, to be sure, not a very formal one, 
for I think we forgot — most of the time — that we were 
working. She said that her interview would be about 



as big as Lady Tree’s “Autobiography,” which she pro- 
ceeded to recite at full length : 

“ This is the life of little me: 

I am the wife of Beerbohm Tree.” 

And I remarked her choppy, brittle English, and 
she remarked our sloppy, “r”-ful American. 

“I say over the telephone, ‘Please give me the 
dark,’ and the operator says, ‘You mean the clerk.’ I 
ask her to send up a vawse for flowers, and she says 
I mean a vace.” 

And she told me of a new play in which she may 
appear, if she doesn’t come to Chicago with Miss Tay- 
lor in her original role in “Out There.” It is a new play 
that she thinks she would suit if the author will only 
consent to change a line which remarks the fatal 
beauty of the heroine. 

“We couldn’t keep that in,” she said, quite calmly. 

“Why not? Aren’t you — pardon my professional 
bluntness — a very good-looking girl?” 

“Not very.” 

“You don’t mean to say ?” 

“No, no — not that I’m homely. I am,” she said, 
quizzically, “rather picturesque, in a gauche and angu- 
lar way. With lots of trouble, with infinite care in the 
choice of clothes, I contrive to look smart.” 

She looked impeccantly smart to the undiscerning 
eye of the male, with soft lace at the neck and cuffs of 
her severe one-piece tailor suit, which was English 
tailoring, no doubt, but English tailoring that fitted 
painlessly, which is to say that it neither hiked nor 

But who am I to tell you what a stunning girl has 
on ? I only know that she was stunning — and that she 
likes American humor. No! I’m not flattering myself . 

Melting the Ice With Miss Lynne Fontanne 199 

It was the humor of an American actor, whose name 
I lost in the enjoyment of the yarn. 

She had filled a brief idle term with the traditional 
adventure in vaudeville. “And,” said she, “I thought 
that American humor surely was a superstition when 
I rehearsed this sketch, in which I had to say to my 
brother, who was about to demean himself by marry- 
ing a hard-working stenographer much too good for 
him : ‘Look at the portraits of your ancestors ! Think 
of the honor of your family !’ 

“We rehearsed without scenery, and in the excite- 
ment of the opening I did not look at the setting until 
I came to the fatal line. The actor who played my 
brother looked up with me. And what we saw, where 
the ancestral portraits should have been, were pictures 
of the Lord’s Supper and Christ turning the money- 
changers out of the temple. As I said, ‘Look at the por- 
traits of your ancestors,’ he said, under his breath, 
‘Evidently a Jewish family.’ ” 

Enter on our laughter bellman bearing telegram 
— two telegrams, in fact. 

“Yours first. Read aloud what she said to you,” 
Miss Fontanne demanded and aloud I read : 

“ ‘Dual letter received. Lynn talks best on the 
subject of me. Use that as basis of interview. Give 
her my love, and tell her to remember all the nice 
things I told her about myself. Yours very truly — 
Laurette!’ ” 

“I don’t think I’ll let you see mine,” she said, “it’s 
so terribly intimate.” 

But she did; and it wasn’t — not so terribly. It 

ran : 

“So, my dear child, your career has led you to a 
twosome with A. S. No matter how you play, when you 
leave the interview you will find him the winner. Do 



right and fear no man; be dumb and fear no inter- 
viewer. With my love always — Laurette.” 

“Still hungry, Miss Fontanne?” 

“Um — yes — if it isn’t going to rain.” 

“I’ll call a cab.” 

“No. Wait downstairs till I put on my hat. Oh ! 
And would you mind sending a telegram for me? I’ll 
write it now.” 

She did, and folded it, and I took it down. And 
of course no perfect gentleman would look at a telegram 
that was not addressed to himself. But how was an 
imperfect gentleman to know there were twenty words 
unless he looked? Besides, as you see, it wasn’t so ter- 
ribly intimate: 

“I’m enormously hungry, and I don’t care if it 
does rain — and I’ve got lots of hats. Yours desperately, 
darling — Lynn.” 

And everything went delightfully till we arrived 
at the theater at eight-ten that night, when Mr. Har- 
court addressed me as “the lightning interviewer.” A 
witty man, Cyril Harcourt and, I hope, not a jealous 

However . . . Laurette Taylor started this. And 
Western Union can testify that she also finished it. 


E DROVE sixty-five miles with Mr. 
Hitchcock at the wheel. It didn’t seem 
that long. He talked most of the way, 
but it didn’t seem that long. 

There were times when I thought 
it was going to be much shorter. 
There were times when North Shore policemen chal- 
lenged Mr. Hitchcock’s interpretation of a lawful 
speed; there were times when danger posts, curb- 
stones, light poles and other habitually stationary 
objects forsook their sites and dodged menacingly in 
front of Mr. Hitchcock’s front wheels. 

Raymond Hitchcock is a great musicomedian, a 
magnificent manager — so magnificent that he is 
$80,000 to the bad and can’t make a cent out of a 
“Hitchy-Koo” that is nightly straining the capacity of 
the Colonial Theater — and indubitably he is the best 
long-distance talker that ever tooled a touring car. 

But he is the world’s worst driver. And I think 
he knows it. 

We had just dodged the jigging Edgewater Beach 
Hotel and were skidding from under the prow of 
Northwestern University, which had floated into Mr. 
Hitchcock’s right of way, when he slowed up to sixty 
miles to permit the safe crossing of a beautiful flaxen 
woman wearing a beautiful black crepe hat. The tail 
of his artistic eye lingered on her hat. 



“The Widow Stevens would look well in one of 
those for Easter,” said he. 

Hatless, his straw-colored hair inviting the fra- 
grant breezes, he sniffed Nature welcomingly. Spring 
was good to “Hitchy,” and he knew his Nature. He 
knew the budding trees and piping birds by name. 

I don’t think the center of his system is Broadway 
and Forty-second street. His apparel — morning coat, 
white waistcoat, saffron gloves, varnished boots with 
buttoned buff uppers, not to mention a gold watch the 
size of a swan’s egg with melodramatic diamonds on 
both sides — does not proclaim the man within. 

He was telling me now that you never can judge 
a man’s pleasures by his poses. 

“There was ‘Diamond Jim’ Brady, who left me 
this watch. In such jeweled junk he sewed up a mil- 
lion-and-a-half dollars. Most folks thought he was 
diamond-mad and chorus-girl-mad. He wanted ’em to 
think so. That was his pose. Diamonds and chorus 
girls were ‘Diamond Jim’s’ bait for the railroad men he 
did business with. I know; I knew Brady as well as 
any man could. That stuff was his pose.” 

“What was his pleasure?” 

“Business — selling goods — making money. He 
was the most consistent business man I ever met — and 
nobody knew it.” 

“What’s your pose?” 

“Being funny.” 

“What’s your pleasure?” 

“Being a manager.” 

Then he posed. 

“There are four things for a man driving a car 

“ Hitchy ” 


to beware of,” he said, drawlingly : “A woman driving 
a car, a boy on a bike, a hen, and a Ford.” 

“Have a cigar?” 

“No thanks; don’t smoke, don’t drink. I swear” 
(I’ve never heard him), “flirt with the women and 
wear fancy vests, but I don’t drink. 

“Flirting, at our time of life, Ashton, in homeo- 
pathic flirts, is good for us. A mild flirtation keeps 
alive the sensation that, by gosh! you’re not on the 
shelf yet.” 

“How’s ‘Hitchy-Koo’ doing?” 

“Fine ! bully ! about twenty thousand this week. 
The show’s doing so well in Chicago I think I’ll close 
it out in about two weeks more and go to London.” 

“! ! !” 

“I’ll close it out because it is the most expensive 
show in the world. It could make money in New York, 
but not here ; the percentage is against me.” 

“And you added two thousand a week to the 
expense by adding Lillian Russell!” 

“Well, I didn’t want to slight Chicago,” he apolo- 
gized. “Grace La Rue and Rock and White were out 
of the cast and I thought I’d try to keep faith with a 
town that always has been pretty decent to me. Oh, 
I’m a far-seeing manager! Perhaps Chicago will let 
me come back. I always look ahead. I remember when 
I was a boy and ” 

“You’ve told me before of your first job — selling 

“That wasn’t my first job,” he corrected reproach- 
fully. “My first job was cleaning bathtubs in a barber 
shop. If I had been a bright boy I might have been the 
head barber by this time.” 

“You’ve had some wonderful pasts,” I said lightly. 



“Yes,” he answered with sudden seriousness, “I’ve 
had some wonderful pasts. And I’m not ashamed of 
any of them. 

“I was fresh from jail,” he went on, for the first 
time in our long acquaintanceship referring to those 
dark days in which he had an opportunity to check his 
list of friends. “Oh, I was fresh from jail. (What a 
boob I was — then!) And my lawyer advised me not to 
hang my head, but to go out among men. 

“I went with him one night to a public banquet in 
New York. As I was about to seat myself, a man who 
had known me well said with a sneer : 

“ ‘I’m afraid you’ve made a mistake — this table 
is reserved for celebrities.’ 

“ ‘I qualify for it perfectly,’ I said to him — ‘I am 
both famous and notorious!’ 

“And sometime later, when this gentleman, cruel 
with wine, said, ‘Mr. Hitchcock, didn’t you use to clean 
bathtubs in a barber shop?’ I answered: 

“ ‘Yes ; but I don’t recall ever preparing a bath for 
you.’ ” 

We got out at a pharmacy and ate ice-cream soda 
and talked showmen. 

“Billy Sunday and George Cohan are the greatest 
showmen in the world, and one of them is on the level,” 
quoth Hitchy. 

“Where’d you get the idea of hand-shaking your 
audience ?” 

“From Georgie Cohan. I sent him an emergency 
call to Atlantic City, and he came with his small self- 
esteem and large genius and knocked ‘Hitchy-Koo’ 
into shape. He told me to get right down in the aisle 
and talk to the audience by the hand. ‘They’d hang 
anybody else, but you can get by with it,’ says Georgie. 



"And the first big mark to come sailing down the 
aisle was Ambassador Gerard. 

“ ‘Hello, Jim. How’s your excellency ?’ I sang out, 
and gripped him; and the little old show was on and 
‘over’ — thanks to Georgie.” 

"Did you make him a partner for that?’’ 

"No! George isn’t my partner — he’s my friend. 
I couldn’t do anything for him for that. I couldn’t 
even pay his board bill at the hotel.” 

“Have you ever been broke?” 

"What do you call this — being eighty thousand 
in the hole!” 

"I mean actually broke.” 

“Yes. A month ago in New York I got up without 
a nickel in my pockets — without a nickel in the world. 
And I’d had a pretty good return from my Fulton 
Theater that week, too. ‘Words and Music’ had lost 
only twenty-three dollars. It was the best week the 
Fulton had had under my management. 

"Well, as I say, not a nickel to my name that day. 
And there I was in my Packard limousine, with two 
men up — a driver and a whatyoumaycallem. And two 
honest sons of toil with lunch pails see me in my limou- 
sine and say right out so I can hear it: 

" ‘Pretty soft for that guy !’ 

"That got me. I called ’em. ‘Hey, you!’ says I. 
‘Come here!’ And I told ’em I didn’t have a nickel, 
and had to feed those strong men on the front seat 
and keep them from worrying about anything in the 

“ ‘I envy you,’ I says to the working fellows — 
‘I envy you your wages, and your paid-for lunch in the 
pails, and the way you can look your wife in the eye 
when you go home — not to mention the corner 
grocer.’ ” 



“It must be awful,” said I, “when you are feeling 
particularly bright and spontaneous, to have some 
major creditor shown down the aisle right into your 

“Get back in the car and I’ll tell you about it,” 
said Hitchy. 

“But first I want to tell you about the nickelless 
morning. I was ashamed to touch anybody for ten 
or a hundred. So I drove to the bank and borrowed 
ten thousand. And when that was due, I borrowed fif- 
teen thousand from a friend and paid off the bank and 
had five thousand to pay housekeeping accounts. 

“As long as you’ve got your health and a job, 
you can borrow. That’s the secret of my finances. 
I’m always healthy, and always working. And another 
secret is, always pay the little fellows. Now ” 

“Was this a little fellow that walked down the 

“It was not. It was none less, nor other, than 
New York’s distinguished money master, Jacob Wert- 
heimer. I grabbed him warmly by the hand and 

“ ‘How are you, Jake? — this is a pleasure. Ladies 
and gentlemen, I want to introduce you to my partner, 
Mr. Jacob Wertheimer. I owe him forty thousand 
dollars, and he’s never going to get it, and that gives 
me the right to call him my partner.’ 

“And Jake beamed, bless him! beamed all over 
himself — positively liked it. And during the inter- 
mission he came back to my dressing room and said: 

“ ‘Say, Hitchy, how’d you like to make that eighty 
thousand?’ ” 

“And you ” 

“Not then — not then, Ashton! That would have 

“H itchy” 


been inartistic. I told him I’d consider it. I told him 
I’d hold it open for him.” 

“Put him in suspense, as it were?” 

“Yes, suspense, as it were. You have a happy 
gift for words. But I think I’ll end Jake’s suspense 
pretty soon and take his other forty thousand with 
me to London.” 

“With a little sense of humor,” said Manager 
Hitchcock, dropping me at my door, “you can get 
away with murder.” 

Twenty-Thousand Dollar Legs 

HEAR that you,” said Miss Fay Marbe, 
over our fruit cocktail at the Black- 
stone, “that you like to interview stars 
or beautiful women.” 

I laughed ; her “or” made me. For 
Miss Marbe, patrons of the Apollo 
Theater will recall, is not the star of “The Hotel 
Mouse” — not by at least one Frances White and one 
Taylor Holmes. 

And she is a beautiful woman — girl ; dark of eye, 
of hair, with an ever-smiling full mouth of coral and 
ivory, vivid in a summer-bronzed face of magnificent 
oriental modeling, and with a form whose delect- 
able sculpture not even the prevailing sweater can 

I said, superfluously, “Which are you?” 

She confessed her beauty by answering, “I’m not 
a star yet, but I shall be next time I come.” 

“You’re not,” I asked, in what approximated anx- 
iety, “going to stay away till you lose your looks?” 

“Oh, no,” she replied scrupulously; “I shall have 

“I like your confidence!” I smiled. 

“And I like you,” she rejoined — God knows why. 
“I’ve been hearing some lovely things about you.” 

“Swaps?” I conjectured. 

“You call them that here, too! I didn’t know the 
word had gone so far. Oh, not that Chicago,” she 
quickly recovered, “isn’t charming. It’s my first visit 



and I love it. I think Chicago’s even more hospitable 
than New York — and I’ve seen a great deal of New 
York; the social side, you know: I used to entertain the 
Astors, the Harrimans, you know.” 

Curiosity impelled me to inquire as to how Miss 
Marbe had entertained the Harrimans and the Astors. 

“I danced for them, at their homes; and I was 
Caruso’s favorite protegee — I wish you could see the 
letters!” Her brown eyes rolled. “It was really 
through Society, you know, that I left a private finish- 
ing school for the stage. But perhaps you’ve heard?” 
I regretted that I had been deaf. 

“It was at the great Allied Pageant, where I led 
the Oriental section and danced. Billy Elliott saw me 
and said, ‘Will you dance for me tomorrow afternoon 
at the Princess Theater?’ And I said ‘Yes,’ without 
even knowing that ‘Oh Boy!’ was playing there — I 
knew nothing about the theaters. I’d hurt my foot, 
too; but just the same I was there next day and up on 
the Princess stage dancing for Billy Elliott. 

“ ‘I’ll do the best I can,’ I said, while I danced, ‘but 
you’ll have to make allowances for my sore toe.’ 

“ ‘You can speak lines, too!’ Billy Elliott cried at 
that. ‘I’ve got a part for you !’ 

“ ‘And then and there he gave me the part of Polly 
Andrews, the second lead, under Anna WTieaton, in 
‘Oh Boy!’ — And I wasn’t a bit frightened,” declared 
the believable girl. “I went into that show as though 
I’d been born on the stage. True, I walked through a 
wrong door in an important scene, but I came out all 
right and smiling; and Anna Wheaton said, ‘If I had 
your assurance I’d ask no odds of Bernhardt!’ ” 

“No chorus, no heartbreak, no ‘backer.’ I just 
went on the stage and — here I am,” murmured Miss 

Twenty-Thousand Dollar Legs 


Marbe, pride beaming in her lovely lineaments. “I’ll 
be twenty-one next February; I’m just twenty-and-a- 
half now ; and I’ve worked continually. Did you know 
that I got twelve hundred and fifty for a week in New 
York at Marcus Loewe’s State Theater?” 

“I must have missed that in my careless reading. 
What did you do for twelve hundred and fifty?” 

“My vaudeville act, fourteen minutes, with my 
pianist. And then I stood out on the canopy — it was 
really a dangerous place — and released toy balloons.” 
“All for twelve hundred and fifty?” 

“Well, I suppose I should have got extra for that 
— but then, you see, the publicity, not to mention the 
distinction! I was the only star who ever stayed a 
whole week at the State. And that week we took in 
twenty-five hundred more than ever before or ever 
after in the history of the house — Mr. Loewe has so 
stated. — Did you see Griffith’s ‘Orphans of the 


“Then don’t you remember” — she removed her 
saffron sport hat and shook out her recently bobbed 
hair to the best of its length — “The Dancer?” 

And you may be assured that I did not say, 
“WTiich dancer?” No, indeed, I said, “Oh, yes, The 
Dancer!” And I said it with a couple of capitals. 

“I thought you’d remember, a man with your eye 
for — and even if you hadn’t, there’s a big painted 
poster now in front of the Roosevelt which says, ‘Fay 
Marbe in Her Intoxicating Dance of the Carmagnole.’ 
I may be induced to make a personal appearance there ; 
I don’t know. — Oh, tell me, what kind of a club is the 
Union League?” 

“It’s inclined to be Republican in its politics,” I 
said, “but socially it’s beyond reproach. Why?” 



“Such a load of flowers came from there for me 
the other night, with a card that only said ‘from an 
admirer.’ I liked just those three words. They were 
so different from the usual name and address and ‘will 
you sup with me tonight?’ ” 

“Do they always put it that way?” 

“Oh, of course not always. You needn’t write 
this, but I don’t mind telling you that since I’ve been 
in Chicago I’ve had six proposals from men I’ve never 

“Of marriage?” 

“That’s what I mean.” 

“Do you think they’re serious proposals? Do you 
think the writers realize all they are pledging?” I 
unsmilingly inquired. 

And unsmilingly she answered: “Oh, yes, they’re 
perfectly serious and perfectly conscious of the respon- 
sibility. Why, one’s from a young clerk who gets only 
twenty-five a week and frankly tells me so; but his 
plans and ambitions are on quite a different scale. And 
I rather admire him for his honesty and his decency; 
he’s not a bit like the men who — you know — have very 
different ideas about a girl on the stage. Thank God, 
I’ve never had to have an ‘angel’! What I am I owe 
only to myself — and to my mother, oh, to my mother 
most of all, for she gave up for my career Society 
friends, everything.” 

“Your mother’s here with you?” 

“Just outside in the lobby waiting for me,” she 
answered literally. 

Whereupon I felt that we must “work,” as Mr. 
Loewe’s actors say, “fast.” 

“You’ve mentioned ‘backers’ and ‘angels,’ Miss 

Twenty-Thousand Dollar Legs 213 

Marbe; am I to infer that you have been much pur- 
sued by the avid millionaire?” 

“Much, indeed! When I was the Velvet Lady in 
‘The Velvet Lady’ ” 

“Wasn’t that,” I blunderingly and all seriously 
interrupted, “a girl with a mask in a vaudeville ‘mys- 
tery’ act?” 

“On the contrary,” she replied, with a just indig- 
nation that shamed me for my ignorance of the Drama, 
“it was a very large and very beautiful musical com- 
edy, produced by Mr. Erlanger. And as I say, when I 
was the Velvet Lady in ‘The Velvet Lady,’ a certain 
rich man, whose name is national, offered me my own 
moving picture corporation and my own theater — the 
‘Fay Marbe Theater.’ ” And if Miss Marbe’s voice 
slightly gloated as she pronounced the imposing name 
of this edifice, I was to remember, to her eternal honor 
and virtue, that it never has been builded. 

“What was this gentleman’s argument?” human 
interest compelled me to quiz. 

“Oh, for one thing,” she languidly answered, 
“that I worked too hard when I worked for others — 
which I shouldn’t do with my looks, with my spirit, 
with my skin, with my figure. As though I’m to blame 
for my figure !” 

“God alone appears to be responsible,” I solemnly 


“But sometimes it’s very trying; sometimes,” she 
sighed, “I envy the plain women of my profession. An 
unattractive girl can go up to the top on her merit, and 
nobody will question that it has been on her merit. She 
has no beauty to tempt rich or influential men to tempt 
her, or to cause other actresses to be jealous of her and 
put obstacles in her way. There are times when I envy 
the plain actress. ‘Angels’ never bark up her tree.” 



“When did they begin to bark up yours?” 

“The first night I appeared in ‘Oh Boy’ the ‘angel’ 
sent me so many flowers that three men had to carry 
them. And with the flowers came a necklace of pearls 
worth fifty thousand dollars — I didn’t know their 
value ; I didn’t know anything about pearls,” confessed 
Miss Marbe — whose taste even now would seem to pre- 
fer the ruby when it is red and square-cut and worn, on 
the right hand, in a dimension only slightly smaller 
than a postage stamp — “but mother told me. Of course, 
she sent the pearls back.” 

“Of course.” 

“But you can see what a nice little battle it’s been, 
just to work my own way unaided by the men who look 
at you with moist eyes and say, ‘What a marvelous 
skin!’ ‘What a marvelous figure!’ ‘What a marvelous 
hand!’ You’ve noticed my hands?” she inquired, hold- 
ing slightly out these exquisitely graduated members. 
“Harrison Fisher has painted them many times ; he had 
them insured for ten thousand. Was it my hands that 
attracted you to me when you first saw me on the 
stage ?” 

“No,” I answered with honesty — and I think with 
courage, too — “it was your legs. Lloyds’ would scorn 
to underwrite them for a dollar less than twenty 

“They’ve been rated even higher than that,” she 
said without emotion, and asked me if I ever journeyed 
to New York. And when I said, “Sometimes,” she 

“Well, next time, come straight to me, at the Astor. 
I’ve got a marvelous car, and I’ll take you marvelous 
places and give you a marvelous time. And I don’t ask 
everybody, I’ll tell you!” 

Sothern and Marlowe 

Y friend Mr. Sothern will not take it 
amiss, I take it, if I say that of all 
the parts he plays he plays none so 
well as the one in which I found him 
the other afternoon at the Blackstone 
Hotel. He was being, perfectly, Julia 
Marlowe’s husband. 

Now, a perfect husband is rare enough even among 
the unsought and the undistinguished; but a perfect 
husband to a famous actress and himself a famous 
actor! — that is the stuff of which domestic dreams are 

I had been bidden to join them in “tea” (the quan- 
tity of tea I consume in this profession is not, I some- 
times regret, exaggerated) ; and Mr. Sothern himself 
now made it and poured it and lemoned it and abetted 
it with toast and trimmings. He was host and hostess, 

They were going to another city before settling 
here for the engagement at the Studebaker, and Mr. 
Sothern was perfectly safeguarding Miss Marlowe 
from the needless wear and tear of travel — from tea 
and me, among other wears and tears. His wife, he 
told me — employing almost romantically, I thought, the 
homely word — his wife was in the adjoining room, 

“Mrs. Sothern is not ill again?” — I had anxiously 
expressed it. And he was taking pains to attest the 
needlessness of my alarm. 



“She never was better; the six years of retirement, 
‘disappearance,’ have worked wonders for her ; she has 
at last paid herself back with rest for those long years 
— how many? twenty-five or thirty? — of incessant 
work in the theater. An hour’s calisthenics every 
morning before an open window — in a bathing suit! 
You wouldn’t,” he felicitously phrased it, “know her!” 
And I did not argue. 

“Why have you and Miss Marlowe returned after 
having reaped such a thrilling farewell?” I asked, and 
added : “Only Kipling ever got such ‘final’ appreciations 
without going for good. And he did his best to.” 

“I know,” said Sothern. ‘So did we — our very 
best. Nothing could have been more genuine than our 
disappearance. We not only renounced everything, 
we sold everything — every last stitch and stick of 
wardrobe and production. We had three auction sales 
— and the total was a beggarly six thousand dollars. 
For things that cost five or six hundred apiece the deal- 
ers or curio-hunters bid twenty or twenty-five dollars. 
The scenery we had to give away. 

“But, even so,” he pursued, “I thought we had 
enough to live on for the balance of our days, when — 
when along came war and peace and made our dollars 
worth fifty cents. See?” 

“No,” I said blindly, “I won’t see it that w r ay. It 
never has been money with you two — else you’d never 
have been Shakespeareans in the first place, let alone 
the second!” 

“There was another consideration,” he smilingly 
admitted. “I had already made my deliberate, calcu- 
lated, prepared, but — always bear in mind — sincere 
‘farewell.’ I had listened to the not unfriendly ‘final’ 
appreciations of the public and the critics. But my 
wife had not. She had been taken from the stage by 

Sothern and Marlowe 


a complete and sudden breakdown. She had been 
cheated out of her wonderful opportunity of tasting 
the final sweets of public expression. And," this per- 
fect husband perfectly wound up, “I was willing to go 
back to help, to round out, my wife’s farewell. For, 
of course, you know we can’t go on forever now — I’m 
sixty and — there you are !” 

He did not say that this is the year when Julia 
Marlowe becomes fifty ; nor did I say it. But the hide- 
ous historical fact was in my mind — that this most 
spirited and not the least beautiful of the immortally 
beautiful ladies of the drama was verging fifty! And 
in the lowness of my soul I wondered if this were not 
the highest testimonial to Mr. Sothern’s perfection as 
a spouse — this (I meanly thought) keeping her doored 
away from the searching, vulgar eye of the press lest, 
perchance, her appearance betray her half century as 
vividly as his did not betray his three score. 

At any rate, I know one searching, vulgar eye of 
the press that presently would, if it could, have dimmed 
itself. That was when Mr. Sothern, taking casual 
stock of his watch, observed the hour with a shock and 
cried, “Julia! Julia! We’ve only time for the train!” 

I heard the door open to this. I heard her ever- 
young voice greeting me. But for an instant I had not 
the courage to look. Then I found myself shaking her 
gloved hand and gazing into her unpainted face with 
an expression of idiocy at least. 

“How well you look! How marvelously young you 
look!” was all I could stammer. 

Of course I am not the first man who has turned 
giddy at sight of Julia Marlowe. She has ways of 
restoring them to balance. She immediately began to 


A ctorviews 

tell me how well I looked. As though idiocy became 

Tactfully Mr. Sothern chatted the while. He had 
been talking so much we had lost sight of the time, he 
said. It never was safe to let a man talk about himself 
— he did not say about herself. 

Even critics were nicely disposed in the tactful 
flow of Mr. Sothern’s words — which are hard to quote 
because they were so effortless and yet so charmingly 
arrayed. Himself a delightful writer, he talks as a 
good writer would like to — talk : his ornaments sharpen 
the point and season the occasional humor. He was 
saying (I’ll try to say for him) : 

“Critics are, we’ve come to know, the public — a 
concentrated public. In the end they are about right — 
in the end they represent the public. And we’ve got 
to take their blows in good faith, just as we take their 
caresses. But especially the blows. I come of an act- 
ing family, and I know that it’s been ever so. I’ve seen 
my father come away from the newspapers — pum- 
meled. But he always went back for more. It was his 
idea, I think, as I am certain that it’s mine, that we 
actors are like prize fighters in that much depends on 
how much punishment we can take.” 

“Tell me, Sothern,” I said, taking advantage of 
the flood tide of his good nature, “who has been your 
severest critic?” 

Miss Marlowe laughed a silvery scale. No, it was 
more liquid — she fluted it. Mr. Sothern answered with 
perfect gravity : 

“My fiercest, most merciless, critic is my wife — 
although she operates with the kindness of a surgeon. 
When I want to find out how bad I am she sits alone 
in the theater while I go out alone on the stage and 
show my interpretation to her. Then I hear her say 

Sothern and Marlowe 


that my Shylock, say, is a mass of overacting, a medley 
of ill-remembered performances by others, a thing of 
shreds and patches. ‘It isn’t human,’ she will tell me. 
‘Those lines are only coming out of you, an actor who 
has memorized them — they don’t come out of Shylock 
at all !’ ” 

“If,” broke in Miss Marlowe, “you exaggerated 
your performance as you do my comment I’d have a 
chance to talk mercilessly!” 

“How is he as a critic?” I asked her. 

Again the perfect husband perfectly answered : 

“I don’t, fortunately, have to assume such an atti- 
tude with my wife, whose perceptions are much more 
acute, whose imagination is much quicker. I’m the 
slow coach of our little family — and perhaps my wisest 
talent is knowing it.” 

“Hasn’t anything funny happened,” I asked Miss 
Marlowe, “since you’ve ‘come back’?” 

“I wish to heaven it had!” she deplored, adding, 
“But we’ve had no luck !” 


A ctorviews 

Fanny and I and the Baby 

HERE had been trouble in “The Fol- 
lies.” Miss Ray Dooley, impersonating 
an infant in arms, had carried realism 
too far, some of the pundits and Puri- 
tans said. My colleague Mr. Hammond, 
although himself a parent, had frowned 
on that lifelike scene wherein a male comedian sud- 
denly withdraws his supporting knee from an unre- 
strained babe of imperfect lap-manners ; and last week 
Mr. Ziegfeld had come rushing from New York to reas- 
sure himself that more nature than art had not leaked 
into his show. 

“I shall not mention the sad affair to Fanny Brice,” 
I said to myself on the way up to her rooms ; nor did I 
even when I discovered that Miss Brice has an infant 
of her own. 

It met me when I entered ; it made straight for me. 
It made a gurgling sound. 

“She’s trying to treat you to a drink,” the child’s 
mother explained. 

Hospitable just like mommuh, is Fanny Brice’s 
sixteen-months-old daughter, Frances. 

Big for her months and a mighty crawler on Hotel 
Sherman’s carpet, the baby had made across the floor 
for me with her bottle. Now she deposited it on my 
lap, emitting an intoxicated “Blib-blib!” 

So from the warm bottle I drank with and to 
Fanny’s first-born. 



“Frances,” I said, “here’s hoping your path to the 
stage is as rosy as your mother’s was.” 

“Don’t!” cried Fanny, and grabbed her child from 
me. “Don’t wish what I got on her . It cost me thirty- 
five dollars cash and a million dollars’ self-confidence to 
become an actress. You know what George M. Cohan 
said to me when I was rehearsing in the chorus of ‘The 
Talk of New York’ and he saw me dance? I was as 
tall as I am now and a hundred pounds lighter — mostly 
shins — and clumsy! Cohan takes one look at what I 
dance with, and says out of the corner of his mouth : 

“ ‘Back to the kitchen for you.’ ” 

“Don’t be ungrateful, Fanny; wasn’t that what 
drove you into burlesque and got you discovered by 
Ziegfeld ?” 

“It was a boil back of the soubrette’s ear that got 
me to Ziegfeld, and don’t you ever forget that,” Fanny 
corrected. “She was the stage manager’s wife and I 
was her understudy, and when she grew this boil I 
said, ‘God is good to me,’ and got ready to go on in her 
place. And at the last minute she puts a big pink rib- 
bon round her neck and goes on herself — with me wait- 
ing to drop the scenery on her. But it wouldn’t stand 
the strain, the boil wouldn’t. It exploded and had to 
have a doctor, and I went on and got six encores in a 
song where she’d been getting one; and Ziegfeld heard 
about me and I was signed for the 1910 ‘Follies.’ ” 
“That,” I told Fanny, “doesn’t sound very hard, 
but rather soft.” 

“Baby,” wailed Fanny, cuddling her youngster, 
“that ain’t the half of what happened to your mommuh 
when she first went to be an actress on the stage.” 
“Blib-blab-blub,” answered Frances, sympathetic- 

Fanny and I and the Baby 


“She says, ‘Go on with your story/ ” Fanny trans- 
lated, and went: 

“It was a newspaper advertisement that says the 
lady wanted new beginners for the stage, and with my 
mommuh I answered it. The lady was a Miss Rachel 
Lewis, little and Jewish and thirty; and she has for 
partner an actor by the name James O’Neill, but not 
the original. She says she will make me A Number 
One actress for two hundred dollars paid now in 
advance. But my mommuh is Jewish, too, and offers 
her thirty-five. 

“For days and days,” droned Fanny, “I go round 
to the bum hotel where Rachel Lewis lives, and see no 
actors, no lessons, no nothing. My mommuh is getting 
impatient, so one day I says, ‘Why don’t you teach me?’ 
and Rachel Lewis she shows me a Spanish dance, and 
I take it home and show mommuh. She says, ‘For 
thirty-five dollars only a Spanish dance !’ and wants to 
know where my costumes are. 

“So I went back and told Rachel Lewis and she said 
she’d measure me, and showed me a tape measure. 
She shows me a tape measure for two weeks, and that’s 
all she shows me. She’s busy rehearsing a crowd of 
queer-looking creatures who say they’re actors, in a 
rented show which is called ‘The Ballad Girl.’ Rachel 
Lewis is the Girl, and I’ve got a part, too, but no cos- 
tume yet. 

“I get it,” Fanny went on, warming, putting down 
the baby and pacing the long living room in trailing 
Japanese negligee. “I got the costume the night we 
open ‘The Ballad Girl’ in Hazelton, Pa. And it comes 
just to here.” Fanny designated a place midway be- 
tween waist and knee. 

“I was so thin those days it was a shame to show 



me the way that dress did. And the longer the show 
stayed out the thinner I got. They gave me a quarter 
a day for meals, but I had to split the quarter with the 
dog. He was Rachel Lewis’ dog and roomed with me, 
the dog did — twenty-five cents a room for the two of 
us. It cost a dime a day to feed the dog, and I was get- 
ting so thin, eating on fifteen cents, that my bones were 
coming through the skin at my elbows. 

“This isn’t where you laugh! Lemme explain. I 
was working on my elbows in the water scene — where 
stage hands hold strips of cloth that were supposed to 
be waves. I played an alligator in that scene. You 
couldn’t see me, but I was the alligator just the same. 
My right arm was one of his jaws and my left the other 
jaw, and I lay on my elbows in the trough of this water 
scene and worked the jaws of the alligator. And the 
joints of my elbows got so sore I used to cry. 

“When I got courage enough to tell Rachel Lewis 
my elbows wouldn’t stand the alligator part any longer, 
she patted me on the back and said : ‘But what shall I 
do? There ain’t nobody else in the whole company can 
play it so good as you.’ 

“I believed her. Poor fish! I kept on playing the 
alligator’s jaws, and business got worse and worse. We 
were so rotten the little towns didn’t want us even 
before they’d seen us. They’d heard about ‘The Ballad 

“ ‘There’s only one thing left to do,’ says James 
O’Neill — which I tell you again, wasn’t the original 
James O’Neill — ‘and that’s to give ’em drama.’ 
So they got ‘The Royal Slave,’ which was sick with 
drama ; and because I said I could sew they let me make 
all the costumes. But the only change I got for myself 
was a Spanish scarf out of Rachel Lewis’ suitcase, 
which made me look like a piano lamp. And looking 

Fanny and I and the Baby 


like a lamp, I’m supposed to get married in the last act 
of ‘The Royal Slave’ ! 

“ ‘I’ve got to have some clothes to get married in,’ 
I told Rachel Lewis. ‘I’ve got to have anyway a veil.’ 

“ ‘I tell you what,’ says she — ‘you take the curtains 
off the window in your room at the hotel and you’ve got 
a swell wedding veil.’ 

“So I took ’em off and put ’em on. But we had to 
ring down quick on the last act. The hotel man was out 
in front and recognized his curtains. 

“So I gave up,” Fanny sighed. “Rachel Lewis and 
this number four O’Neill had taken my chip diamond 
rings and pin and pawned them. They were beginning 
to come slow with the quarter a day for me and the dog. 
So I gave up and sat down to write to my mommuh to 
send me a ticket for home. And as I started to write 
I happened to look in a dingy mirror by the desk and 
I saw Lewis and O’Neill with their suitcases beating it 
out the side door. 

“I ran and told a girl in the company and her 
mommuh, and the three of us followed ’em to the sta- 
tion. And when they got on the midnight train by one 
platform we got on by the other. And when the con- 
ductor says ‘Tickets' we only pointed to Lewis and 
O’Neill in a seat ahead — and they had to pay our fare 

back to New York Don’t wish a life like that 

on my baby.” 

“But your troubles were over now, Fanny.” 

“For me — maybe; but my mommuh! That girl 
and her mommuh I took to my home, and there they 
stayed for days and weeks, mostly in bed. They 
wouldn’t work, they wouldn’t move; just slept and ate. 
To this day my mommuh says: ‘Don’t bring me no 
actors !' ” 



“Are you going to raise this child to be an 
actress?” I asked, taking little Frances on my knee. 

“Why not? She’s already got a talent. — Baby, 
show the man what your mommuh does in the ‘The 
Follies.’ ” 

And I swear to you that the child actually did — 
shimmy. Right there on my lap. 

“Now, baby, show the man what Ray Dooley does 
in ‘The Follies.’ ” 

I hastily transferred Frances Brice Amstein from 
my knee to the carpet. 

“Coward! You’d think you were Percy Ham- 
mond ! — Show him, baby, what Ray Dooley does.” 

And I swear to you that the gifted infant opened 
a wide, wide grin and covered it with its hand for all 
the world as Miss Dooley does. 

Bert Williams’ Last Interview 

OME night my old friend Bert Williams, 
the very fine comedian, is going to give 
me a shock. Some night when I ease 
into his dressing room for a reflective 
pipe he will be cheerful and he will 
be talkative — and I will curl up in 

I’ve known him more years than some comedians 
or critics are old; and he is still the mournfulest of 
all the men I know. He is even more mournful than 
Ring Lardner, who used to inhabit a corner of Bert 
Williams’ dressing room and match long gloomy silen- 
ces with him. 

I missed Ring Lardner when I went back stage at 
the Studebaker to see Bert Williams. Mr. Chappy 
said he missed Ring Lardner, too, said it was never so 
quiet and restful in the dressing room as when Mr. 
Lardner and Cap (as he calls his employer) got to 
saying nothing to each other for twenty minutes at a 
stretch. Mr. Chappy has been Bert Williams’ valet 
for twenty-two years, and ought to be a good judge of 
muted gloom. 

“I don’t know which of those gentlemen,” said Mr. 
Chappy, while Bert Williams was working his first 
shift in “Broadway Brevities,” “is the silenter, and I 
ain’t saying you couldn’t get a person out of a deef and 
dumb asylum that would beat either one of ’em. But 
I’ll contend with my last dollar that they ain’t a dumb 
man in the world could beat ’em both.” 

a swoon. 



Bert Williams came back to listen to trouble, which 
seems to gravitate to him as naturally as a penny to a 
slot. Somebody had been doing wrong again to “Broad- 
way Brevities,” poor thing ! and as ever Bert Williams 
was shouldering the black man’s burden. A couple of 
minor comedians had “jumped the show,” as the phrase 
is, taking with them the orchestra parts of the number 
that opened the second act. The leader, the stage man- 
ager, everybody was in a fume. They described the 
dirty trick with language in kind but inadequate — but 
I didn’t know it was inadequate till Bert Williams 
summed the atrocity in a single word, deep from his 
diapason : 


He sat loose while Mr. Chappy rerobed him for 
his next appearance — in the ancient dress-suit and 
white cotton gloves and too small silk hat. 

I think he stood up to change his pants ; but I am 
not sure. I know he sat there, loose, jointless, word- 
less, while Mr. Chappy handed him his kinky wig and 
some prepared cork with which to blacken a light 
lemon-colored line on his forehead that showed below 
the wig. 

The coat of this disreputable dress-suit is green 
from age. The pants are black only where they have 
been patched; the chassis of them is in hue a stale 
heliotrope. When I first saw those heliotrope pants — 
and they were veterans then — we had not been at war 
with Spain. 

“Same pants, Brother Williams,” said I, in whom 
the habit of conversation is incurable. 

“Same,” he assented, and, marvelously enough 
went on : “Same pants in which I appeared before the 
crowned heads of Europe.” 

Bert Williams’ Last Interview 


It sounded very funny. Perhaps that was because 
it was so very true. There was a time in Europe, you 
know, when you weren’t much of a king if you hadn’t 
seen Bert Williams. 

“I’m glad you’ve got a good song — at last.” 

“I’m glad, too, Brother Stevens.” 

“How’d you find this ‘Moon Shine on the 
Moonshine’ ?” 

“Didn’t; it found me. Sang it for the record, pick- 
ing out the notes and words as I went along.” He 
illuminated by holding up an imaginary score. “Hit. 
Thought I might as well learn it for the show. So I 
worked it up. Pretty slow. Four months. — Drink?” 
“No; still no. But where do you find it these 

“Don’t ; it finds me. Get a reputation as a regular 
seven-days-a-week consumer and you’ll never suffer; 
there’s a bootlegger waiting for you in every port.” 
“Well, I don’t mean to flatter, but, Brother Wil- 
liams, you certainly had the reputation of holding 

more ” 


“You didn’t !” 

“Didn’t hold it. I drank it, but I didn’t keep it. I 
was like the old Romans. Every now and then I’d 
drink four or five big glasses of plain water and — 
liquor would leave me. Then I was ready for another 
set of drinks. It was a system.” 

“But why? You weren't selling the stuff.” 

“Why? Because, Brother Stevens, the saloon was 
the only club in which a man of my color could meet a 
man of your color. And I like my friends; like to be 
with them ; like to be seen with them. I could do that 
in the saloon — some saloons. Other saloons, a few, 
weren’t particularly cordial. You know.” I knew. 



“ ‘Heavy’ saloons, I used to call them. I’d pop my 
head in the door of one of these ‘heavy’ saloons, and not 
seeing anybody I knew right well, I’d say, in my best 
London accent: ‘Sorry! I thought Mr. Stevens was 
here. He promised to meet me here at five-thirty.’ 
You see, I knew your time for this place, knew Brother 
Lardner’s time for that place — I had everybody’s 
schedule, and it required a lot of drinking on my part 
when you were all on time at your favorite drinking 

“And when we weren’t there?” 

“A trifle harder on the feet, that’s all. A little 
more standing around, diffidently . . . waiting . . . 
waiting for Mr. Lardner, or Mr. Houseman, or your- 
self. I always said I was waiting for somebody . . . 
even when I was only waiting for anybody . . . any- 
body who’d breeze in and say, ‘Hello, Bert! what you 
doing here?’ and give me a chance to chum and make 
myself at home. Funny what a man’ll do for human 
companionship !” 

“I hear A1 Woods will make a star of you next 

“A star? I asked him to bill it ‘The Pink Slip 

with: ” 

“Good play?” 

“I think so. I’m a porter in the hotel at Catalina 
Island; an awful liar; but a character. And I’ve got 
a song coming along that ought to have character in 
it, too. I sing it with a dog; with a gangling-legged 
outcast dog. A lady has given me a dollar to take this 
dog out and feed him, and her husband has given me 
five dollars to take the dog out and drown him. There 
ought to be some character in that song, not to say 
problem. I’m working it out — slow — way I do every- 

Bert Williams’ Last Interview 


thing, Brother Stevens. But I think I ought to be able 
to understand the way that old black porter feels. 
Yes,” he added, in that mellow, melancholy bass, “and 
I think I ought to be able to understand how the dog 
feels, too.” 

When Justine Johnstone 
Was Natural 

Y HEART turned sour for shame 
when I heard her manager utter my 
own doltish words to Miss Justine 

Mr. Roth said to her, “be just 

have known the suggestion had been 
my luckless own. She hardly looked at him as he 
repeated it and left us with the warning that he would 
be back at five to take her to meet his friend and 
former client, Miss Lillian Russell. But there was a 
derisive curl to the handsome smile with which she 
welcomed me to a chair beside the window-seat 
whereon she lazed. 

In the picture she presented to the gaze of the 
confused beholder there were brown silk ankles, brown 
Russia pumps, a frock of bronze silk figured lightly 
with gold, a golden shock of hair that gleamed against 
the framed background of green lake and blue sky, 
and a face of cream and coral lit by cobalt eyes. 

Miss Johnstone is one of the most beautiful 
American actresses I have ever seen, and I think 
American actresses are the most beautiful that any- 
body can see. But I had not come to discover Justine 
Johnstone’s beauty. 

She must 



“I’ll take off my overcoat,” I said, to say some- 

“That would be the nice, natural thing to do; I’d 
be awfully disappointed if you didn’t,” she answered 

I had not come to discover her beauty. No — ten 
thousand shames upon me ! — I had come to see whether 
she had a sense of humor. And I hadn’t long to wait. 

“Do you know Mr. Roth very well?” she was 

“Fairly well.” 

“How wen?” 

“Oh — I gave him a cigar.” 

Now this was acid test Number One, and it is 
infallible. Any musical comedy person who has not a 
sense of humor will answer that burnished remark 
with: “What was the matter with it?” 

Miss Johnstone said instead : “That sounds rather 
intimate” ; and w’ent on : 

“I wanted to ask you whether you thought Mr. 
Roth the right sort of manager for a girl like me?” 

“He was Lillian Russell’s manager; he was Della 
Fox’s manager; I dare say he was Helen of Troy’s 
manager,” I said, combining truth with amiability. 
“But why do you ask me?” 

“Oh, he’s such a bear at times. He’s worse than 
a conscience. He’s worse than the New York Office. 
If he sees me at supper with a man of less than eighty 
years he says he’s afraid the Shuberts wouldn’t 
approve ! 

“Do you know,” she suddenly shot at me, “what 
I wanted to say to him when he spoke to me as he did 
just now?” 

I thought I could feel the blow falling on my neck. 

When Justine Johnstone Was Natural 235 

My blithering, cocksure notice of her opening in “Over 
the Top” flashed before me sickeningly: 

“She may have it (a sense of humor); and then, 
again, she mayn’t. From where I sat last night you 
couldn’t tell.” 

“No,” I faltered, “I don’t know. But I’ll bite. 
I’ll be the, as it is well-termed, goat. What did you 
want to say to him?” 

“I wanted to say : ‘Mr. Roth, will you please oblige 
me by sitting on a tack ?’ ” 

The glacier was broken ; we were acquainted now. 
She likes to dream, but not to think. The delib- 
erate processes of intellection bore her. She likes to 
snug up in a corner of her window and dream jokes. 
She was so human that her beauty ceased to be a fatal 

“Why don’t you dream a joke or two for your 
part in the show?” I said, “and give a first-nighter a 
chance to know what sort of girl you really are?” 
“What’s the use! They’d treat my jokes the way 
they treat my songs. I go into the Shubert office and 
suggest a suggestion and they say : 

“ ‘A very good idea, but let’s do it this way. We’ll 
get you a nice new pink dress and let him sing the song 
to you.’ ” 

“What do you say to that?” 

“Oh, I say: ‘No, it would be cleverer to give him 
the pink dress and let me sing the song.’ ” 

“Why didn’t they write that into the libretto?” 
“Perhaps because I didn’t say it to Mr. Wynn. 
He knows a joke — so long as it isn’t subtle.” 

“Did you ever dream a joke for Ed Wynn ?” 

“Yes; I gave him the one that goes: ‘Waiter, my 
plate’s damp.’ ‘You dern fool, that’s your soup.’ ” 



“It’s the best one in the piece. I — ahem — myself 
gave him one for the second act. I must go around 
and hear it.” 

“Which one?” she inquired with flattering interest. 

“The one about the man who owed another a 
thousand jackasses and went to his creditor and offered 
Ed Wynn in payment.” 

“I don’t recall it. What’s the answer to that 

“The creditor says : ‘You’ll have to call some other 
day ; I can’t change that.’ ” 

It was my acid test for humor Number Two — 
although heaven is witness that I had not submitted 
it for a test. And she did not say, “Yes, go on with 
the rest ; I’ve got you so far.” She laughed as gleefully 
as I had laughed the first time — or was it the second? 
— I heard it; and said: 

“Why, that’s a fine joke — absolutement! Why 
doesn’t he use it? And it’s on himself. What could 
be better? But perhaps he thinks it’s subtle. I love 
subtle things. I love only one thing that isn’t subtle.” 

“What’s that?” 

“Youth. Youth isn’t subtle. I love Stephen Lea- 
cock and Gilbert Chesterton and some of Meredith, 
but I love youth, too. Sometimes I think that some 
day I’ll fall terribly in love with the sheer youth of 
some lad, and then ” 

Her gesture implied that it would smite her 
hardest at the nape of her lovely neck. 

“But then,” she went on, “I never could stand a 
man that liked himself. And all men do — young or 
old. That’s probably why I shall never really love any 

When Justine Johnstone Was Natural 237 

“Perhaps,” I suggested, “an actor — one who could 
be helpful ” 

“Love an actor! Haven’t I just told you I couldn’t 
even love a man? Actor! No! Absolutement !” 

It was her favorite positive word. 

We were in one of a cluster of rooms she occupied 
with her mother at the Blackstone. And she was happy 
to-day, she said, because mother’s cough was less 
troublesome and the sun was bright and her candy 
tasted good. 

Something always was coming up to the living 
room — flowers in vases, flowers in pots, a fatted flask 
that looked like the “pinch” bottle of Scotland, but 
contained only the essence of flowers, a rabbit gorged 
with Easter sweets, and finally a scarf that was made 
of the capsular bodies of twenty perfect imperial 
Russian sables. 

She talked of furs and furbelows with a frank 
and engaging relish. Didn’t I like the chinchilla coat 
she wore in the show — the one called Kerenski by the 
unstoppable Ed Wynn? Well, its illustrious maker, 
Richard Jaeckel, had been in Chicago and had come 
twice to the Garrick that week. Fancy! 

“A compliment, indeed!” said I. 

“But not for me,” she laughed. “Mr. Jaeckel came 
to see his coat. 

“I dote on saving money,” she was telling me in 
another breath. “I save up lots and lots of it — and 
then some beautiful furs come along and take it all 

“Have you always had a passion for furs?” 

“Oh, no. There was a time in my life when I 
thought furs were only the things that well-to-do 
people wore to keep warm in. As a child I was poor 



— more than romantically poor. At thirteen I worked 
as a child’s cloak-model, in Harry Kitzinger’s, Four- 
teenth and Fifth avenue, for seven dollars a week. A 
salesman introduced me to Walter Kingsley, press 
agent, who got me eighteen dollars playing one of the 
unborn children for Winthrop Ames in ‘The Blue 
Bird.’ Then I went to the brief ‘Folies Bergere,’ and 
when that broke I went to the fashionable boarding 
school at Larchmont. 

“A charming, benevolent gentleman was instru- 
mental in my going there. And I was very grateful 
to him — oh, very! But he was forty-two — and I was 
sixteen. You see, even then I loved youth. 

“My photograph presently appeared in the Green 
Book and anxious mothers wanted to know if I was 
the sort of girl to be going to the same school with 
their daughters. 

“But I left the Larchmont school without being 
fired,” she smiled. “In three years I came out a 
dreamer, a bit bookish. I wanted to be a librarian — 
a Belle Green sort of librarian. 

“Yes, I wanted to be a librarian — till one day I 
walked down Fifth avenue and saw all the beautiful 

“I decided to have those clothes — somehow. But 
how? The stage was the only quick way. And I wanted 
to wear those clothes when I was still young. I would 
be an actress. 

“I told a friend I would be an actress; and he 
told John Drew. 

“ ‘I can give her only twenty-five a week and she 
will have to furnish her own costumes,’ said John 

“So I went into the ‘Follies’ chorus for fifty a 
week and Zieggy furnished the costumes. 

When Justine Johnstone Was Natural 239 

“And a couple of years have slipped by — and Mr. 
John Drew and I are stars playing in the same town 
— and some nights his receipts at the Princess are 
$225. And that isn’t right. The public is wrong. Those 
receipts are not right, I mean. I’m not saying,” she 
smiled, “that the public is wrong about me. I’m not 
that ungrateful. Absolutement.” 

“It does look like Haig & Haig, doesn’t it?” she 
said, fondling the flask of scent. 

“Named after you?” 

“Not yet. One usually starts by having cigars 
named — and then works up to toilet articles. But I 
dread the cigars. They are usually five-centers, aren’t 
they? I’d hate to have anything bearing my name in 
the mouth of a man who’d smoke a five-cent cigar.” 

“You are not a democrat?” 

“No, and I don’t pretend to be anything that I’m 
not. I loathe the posing socialist — or any other kind 
of a poser. I like my own kind of people and only 
that kind. I’d bore the others, and they me. I 
wouldn’t walk out with a stage-hand because I’m quite 
sure that neither of us would enjoy it. But, for that 
matter, I’ve never seen any railroad presidents that 
are especially delightful company.” 

“Where does your preference lie?” 

“Just people — regular, nice, human people, with, 
if possible, a sense of humor.” And she did not say it 

“Is Chicago always as lovely as this?” she asked, 
bathing her face in the sunshine. 

“How do you usually find Chicago?” 

“This is my first trip. I’m terribly untraveled. 
When I was a chorus girl I couldn’t afford to leave 
New York. It would have injured my professional 



reputation. I had to be a star before I’d consider 
leaving New York. And then you ought to see my 
five years’ contract — there’s everything in it but 
caviare for the canary. It ought to be a good contract 
— I copied it from the contract of the most exacting 
Jewish star that ever played for the Shuberts. But 
you mustn’t tell her name. Of course, nobody can 
guess it.” 

“Any other part of this chat you’d like to edit, 
Miss Johnstone?” 

“I can think of only one correction. I said I went 
to the ‘Follies’ for fifty, but it was really for seventy- 
five a week. Zieggy said I mustn’t say it was over fifty. 
It was a confidential salary, Zieggy said. And as Kay 
Laurell and I had the same dressing room, you may 
bet I kept it confidential. Absolutement!” 



Imperial Morris Gest 

ORRIS GEST’S passion for his “Mecca” 
is the life-spark of that amplitudinous 
pagan orgy at the Auditorium. The 
very goats and camels grin contentedly 
behind their work when he wanders 
back stage. I’ll swear I heard a camel 
augh when Gest, asked by some dull fact-collector 
how much live stock he had with his show, enumerated 
them horn by horn and hump by hump and added, 
pulling at his thumb to complete the count, “ — and me.” 

If the fabrics of “Mecca” could talk they would 
call Gest a great lover. Every cloth knows him by feel. 
Sometimes he seems to listen to rugs, and you wonder 
what they tell him. There is a storied coat of thread- 
bare velvet broidered in strands of orange gold. It is 
two hundred years old and came off the back of a 
sheik who went too close to Monte Carlo. You know, 
the rich authentic robe of Prince Nur Al-Din which is 
worn by Herbert Grimwood. 

When Gest lays that precious garment over your 
knees and strokes it as he would a living thing, it is 
not hard to understand why he refused to sell it as 
a museum piece for four thousand dollars one day 
when he hadn’t a hundred in his own unembroidered 

Old pillows are wearing new topcoats for Chicago — 
queer oriental weaves of luscious silk. Gest pats them 
where they gleam, and you obscenely ask him what 
those pillow-covers cost. 



“Forty-five, forty-eight, fifty a yard,” he mumbles, 
and almost angrily adds, “What of it? They’re real." 

“Yes, but who’s going to know they’re real?” you 
basely say. 

White shows in his large eyes, and his plastic 
Russian mouth is white with teeth, and he beats the 
breast of his worn black coat with two tight fists as 
he cries: “/ know it! I know it! Isn’t that enough?” 

He walks you from stage to theater — packed to 
the highest reaches — to foyer, and you glimpse the 
unbroken line at the box office. 

“How does the prosperity feel?” you ask him. 
“How does it feel not to have the sheriff just one jump 

“ ’Bout eighteen years ago, when they were nomi- 
nating a President,” he says dreamily, “I stood on this 
very spot with ‘Bim the Button Man.’ They said he 
never failed to pick the winner with his election 
buttons — and he didn’t because he always had two 
sets made. I stood here with just a dollar ten cents 
in the world. And who can say Morris Gest wasn’t 
happier then than he is today ? Not a note was due — 
I wasn’t good for a note. My only worry was my own 
fare back to New York — now I’ve got a thousand fares 
to figure. I wonder if I wasn’t happier when I stood 
on this spot with just a dollar ten in my clothes?” 

“Same suit of clothes you’ve got on now?” I ask 
in the interests of archeology. 

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” says Gest, “if this is 
the same hat, too.” He takes off and regards with 
shame-faced affection the old velours lid that, I’ll 
swear, was an ancient one when he brought the first 
Russian ballet to our shores. 

“Seriously,” says I, “when are you going to get 
yourself a new suit?” 

Imperial Morris Gest 


“Seriously,” he answers, “just as soon as I pay 
off the two hundred and fifty thousand I still owe on 
‘Mecca.’ ” And he adds (honor compels me to publish 
what he adds) : 

“I did plunge, when I was in London last year, to 
the extent of a new overcoat. But a Chicago critic 
friend of mine I met in New York said it looked better 
on him.” 

(Yes, honor compels me to publish it even though 
the joke, like the overcoat, is on me.) 

Here is Frank Tours, the English leader who is 
now a unionist and an American in good standing, 
come to pass a cigaret during the entr’acte. Gest 
compliments him for what he has done with a new 
orchestra in a large and important score. 

“In our first talk I told the house leader,” says 
Tours, “that no doubt we’d have any number of good 
musicians who’d been playing with the opera. He 
reminded me that Mary Garden had taken the opera 
orchestra to New York. ‘But don’t you worry,’ he said. 
‘I’ll tell you what we have got — we’ve got absolutely 
the same men that played for Jolson in “Sinbad.” ’ 
And what,” Mr. Tours wants to know, “could be fairer 
than that?” 

Gest laughs. He saves his nerve-knotted life every 
day by laughing. And Tours has another. 

He left the leadership of Daly’s, in London, one 
night to try an operetta in the provinces. There were 
four pieces and a piano in the pit, and he played the 
piano. He complimented the men. Accustomed to 
thirty-five bandsmen at least, he didn’t know, he said, 
that five could produce such a volume. “ ‘That was 
nothing,’ the local leader deprecated ; ‘you should hear 
the full seven.’ ” 

Gest laughs a laugh as soft as his habitual soft 



collar, as rippling as his everlasting Windsor tie. 
He hunches comfortably in his first chair since dinner — 
if he remembered to dine — and I, in a manner of 
speaking, spill the salt by mentioning ticket speculators. 
Now he’s off : 

“I take Hammond’s and your advice to cut the 
Chicago prices of ‘Mecca’ a dollar lower than New 
York — I really want to do something decent for the 
city that put me on my feet with ‘Aphrodite’ — and 
along come the speculators and try to charge more 
than I’ve cut. Don’t you see? — they try to defeat my 
cut price. Without risking a dollar they try to suck 
the blood of my enterprise. I’m not against decent 
brokers who charge fifty cents extra. But when they 
charge ten, twenty times that, as they did for ‘Aphro- 
dite’ and are attempting to do for ‘Mecca,’ I can’t 
discriminate between decent brokers and sure-thing 
bloodsuckers; the good have to suffer with the bad. 

“I know ticket speculating as well as I know the 
stage,” he goes on, his mouth firm now, his eyes spark- 
ling. ‘‘I was a stage ‘clearer’ for twenty-five cents 
a day — and I know when a stage is swept. And I 
was a ticket speculator — and I know that it takes a 
thief to catch a thief. I might have been a ticket 
speculator now, fattening on the gambles and imagina- 
tions of gamer men, if Mr. Hammerstein hadn’t one 
day called me in off the street and said, ‘Young fellow, 
you’re too smart for this; I want you to go to Europe 
and pick artists for me.’ I never thought then I’d 
see the day I’d sew up four hundred and eight thousand 
dollars of good borrowed money and more than four 
hundred and eight quarts of blood in one show.” 

‘‘Is ‘Mecca’ the last of your big ones?” I ask him. 

“I thought it was — the conditions, the expense, 
were heart-breaking; I thought I was through. I 

Imperial Morris Gest 


thought so sure,” he runs on, “when Mr. Belasco takes 
me by the arm after the first night of ‘Mecca’ in New 
York and says to me: ‘Russian’ (Mr. B. always calls 
me ‘Russian’ when there’s excitement), ‘Russian,’ says 
he, ‘you’ve gone as far as anybody can go. Nov/ quit!’ 
“But how can I quit? Listen to that orchestra! 
Look at that ballet of throbbing flesh! Feast your 
eyes on those silks from Persia, Syria, from the desert 
of Sahara! Can I quit? Which is the stronger, my 
head or my soul, my brain or my heart? 

“I don’t think I’ll quit till I’ve made Barnum and 
Bailey’s look like a vaudeville act — or I’ve gone broke.” 
“Going broke has never stopped you,” said I. 
“True,” he answered thoughtfully, perhaps 
prophetically; “going broke is sometimes my finest 

Alone at Last With Helen Hayes 

WILL leave it to the impartial reader 
if a mamma does not make all the 
difference in the world to an interview 
with her daughter. 

Miss Helen Hayes’ mamma was very 
much at home when I called on Miss 
Hd>es at tne Ambassador. She is a compelling hostess. 
There were many moments when I couldn’t see any- 
body, hear anybody but Miss Hayes’ mamma. 

She was as unignorable as her daughter had been 
the night before at Cohan’s in the opening performance 
of “To the Ladies!” A lady of high social spirit and 
ready phrase, she took the conversation into her com- 
petent hands and made it general, impersonal, polite. 

The taste, the tone, were perfect; we sounded 
like characters in one of those drawing-room plays 
wherein positively nothing happens. We seemed to 
cover every unimportant subject under the sun. We 
even talked — heaven forgive us! — of dear dead 

And I thought I detected a twinkle in the clear 
eye of Miss Helen when that gifted angel child 
remarked that a whole season of “Pollyanna” (she 
once served thirty days) would make her feel like 
going out and doing something outright bad. Her 
mother looked slightly bewildered. 

“Make you feel like going out and getting five 
drinks and a South American?” I suggested, I know 
not why. 



“A South American?” questioned her mamma. 

"I always think of Rodolph Valentino as a South 
American,” said I, desperately. 

‘Tve seen him in the pictures and I think he’s 
splendid,” Miss Hayes encouraged. 

At this sparkling moment I put my hand on an 
open book that lay beside me on the sofa, and, “Don’t!” 
cried Miss Hayes’ mamma, rescuing the book from me. 

“Don’t!” she warned. “Don’t look at it! It was 
highly recommended to read on the train. But I 
wouldn’t have Helen see it for the world! — You were 
speaking of Rodolph Valentino. I saw an advertise- 
ment for one of his pictures that read — what do you 
think! — ‘The Kiss That Burns.’ I had to read to the 
bottom of the column to find that it was not the title 
of a play but only an ad for ‘Blood and Sand.’ ” 

“I’d like to meet the man that writes those 
curdling ads,” said Miss Helen, ever so quietly. 

“Helen !” said her mamma. 

“I should!” said Helen. 

“I think I could fix it,” said I ; “I know Will Page.” 

“Will Page!” said mamma, mollified, I know not 
why. “Why, he’s a Washington boy! — But I’ve got 
to go and arrange for the apartment we’re moving to 
tomorrow. I simply must.” 

I rose. 

“Oh, don’t let me take you away. I’ll be back 
in half an hour. Don’t feel that you have to ” 

“Wild horses,” I said, looking at Helen, “couldn’t 
drag me.” 

Although Miss Helen comfortably curled herself 
up at the other extreme of the long davenport on which 
I sat, I think we had a minute or two, or at least a 
second or two, of self-consciousness at finding ourselves 

Alone at Last With Helen Hayes 251 

alone together. At any rate I know that I became 
strangely professional and talked to her earnestly about 
her acting, which is one of not many things in the 
theater that appeal to me seriously; and I remember 
that I asked her who, of all the actors, is to her mind 
the Master. 

“Mrs. Fiske,” she said. 

And I could have hugged her for that — and other 
things. For I don’t mind saying here to you, as I 
couldn’t say there to her, that Helen Hayes is about 
my idea of the American girl and the American actress. 
She has charm, beauty, personal flavor, humor, heart, 
imagination, humility and a high technical discretion 
— everything, within modesty and reason, including 
great common sense. Anyway, this paragraph — 
minus its first sentence — will make a cute little 
catalogue for her scrap-book. 

“Mrs. Fiske has been more my religion — than 
my religion,” the darling child went on, and described 
for me a scene in “Wake Up, Jonathan!” where Mrs. 
Fiske expressed herself solely by tapping the floor with 
a nervous slipper. 

“Her toe,” concluded Miss Hayes, “is more eloquent 
than the whole body of any other actor. She’s a 
divine creature, and I’d like to act on the same stage 
with her, if only as one of the mob.” (Which is a 
finer compliment than ever I’ve been able to pay 
you, dear lady, in all these many years — although, 
you may remember, I once did have the cheek to write, 
“Dull people do not like Mrs. Fiske’s acting.”) 

“You’re as unlike her as violets are unlike orchids,” 
I said, or something equally flowery; “and yet you 
share with her the precious quality of untheatricality.” 

“But I like ‘theater’ in the theater!” protested 
Helen Hayes. “I went to see ‘The Monster’ in New 



York the other night and I loved Wilton Lackaye’s 
very entrance. It was so theatrical. He carved every 
word he spoke. He had a grand time, and I envied 
him and hated the sweet little parts I have to play.” 
“Was he better than Skinner?” 

“I’ve never seen Skinner — what’s he like?” 

“Just oozes ‘presence.’ ” 

“I should love him,” she sighed — “and hate the 
things I have to play. I get so weary of being sweet 
. . . and dear . . . and pure.” 

‘“You would like,” I asked with an ear to my 
story, “to be a bad woman — on the stage?” 

“I’d adore it — a regular Borgia, only modern. 
I’d like to have just one chance to be — well — you 
know — brilliant. And in this sophisticated day a 
woman doesn’t seem to be brilliant — on the stage — 
unless she’s been wicked. I want to be wicked — on the 
stage, of course.” 

“Of course,” I agreed. 

“Oh, not that I wouldn’t want to be wicked otf 
the stage, and would be,” the flower-faced infant 
vowed, “if I really wanted to. But I have no inclination 
to be a bad woman in my private life. There’s some- 
thing terribly wanting in me, all right,” she deplored. 

“But you are very young, Helen,” the Devil 
prompted me to suggest. 

“Not so very, very young,” she flared. “And I’d 
give — I’d give fifteen years of my life to be fifteen 
years older and know ... You know, I had to give 
up reading the lives of the great actresses.” 

“You were afraid ?” 

“That I’d be tempted to do as they’d done? No; 
that I wouldn’t be. I knew I was hopelessly moral. 
The great actresses tell us it was their hectic loves 
that made them great artists. And I haven’t the first 

Alone at Last With Helen Hayes 253 

talent for being hectic. I guess I’ve got no tempera- 
ment. I was reading Emma Calve’s book the other 
night. Her lover had written her that ‘all was over.’ 
And she got in a gondola and went up and down the 
streets of Venice all night singing at the top of her 
voice to relieve her agony. I don’t think I could 
do that.” 

She curled up tighter on the sofa, sitting on her 
brown-silk little-girl legs, and adding what I hastened 
to write into the transcript word for word, saying to 
myself that I would show this note to my distinguished 
friend, critic and desk-mate, James Weber Linn, who 
says, and is not the only one who says, “No doubt, 
my dear Stevens, these beautiful women give you the 
facts; but the phrasing, the epigram, is your own.” 

“One of the shames of my life,” she added, as she 
curled herself and pulled down the hem of her primly 
tailored skirt, “is that I have nothing to be ashamed of. 

“I don’t know,” she was presently puzzling, 
“whether it is good policy for me to expose my blame- 
less life.” 

“You advertise your virtue ” I started to say. 

“I reluctantly advertise my virtue ” she 

interrupted to correct. 

“By always being companioned by your mother. 
Although I must say that to-day she has ” 

“To-day,” said Helen, “she was torn between her 
duty to me and the new flat. But since I’ve been so 
frank, I might as well go the whole distance and 
confess to you that even my mother has complete confi- 
dence in me — now. Yes, even my mother trusts me! 
A year ago she would not, she did not, leave us alone 
together. But here we are ! And I know,” she mourned, 
“the day is coming when my friends will leave me 
with their husbands, saying, ‘Helen, do take care of 



John for a few days while I'm out of town.’ — You 
must hate writing an interview every week.” 

“They’re not all like this one,” I owned. 

“But what if you hadn’t been nice to my opening 
in this morning’s paper? What if you’d said mean, 
witty things about me ?” 

“One can’t be witty without being mean?” 

“It doesn’t seem so, does it?” she most humanly 
answered. “Did you ever hear of anybody remembering 
what a critic said in a ‘good notice’?” 


“But I’d have been awfully uncomfortable for 
you if you’d been mean to me in this morning’s paper. 
I once sat at a dinner with a man that had written 
the meanest — because it was so horribly true — 
thing in the world about me. He was Franklin P. 
Adams, and he had said that in ‘The Wren’ I suffered 
from fallen archness. He was most uncomfortable 
at dinner; he seemed to feel that he had to live up 
to his line. He was stiff and cold — that’s the way it 
reacted on him. And I felt so sorry for him. Finally 
he said, ‘I hope you don’t dislike me for what I wrote.’ ” 
“I hope you don’t dislike me,” I said, “for what 
I didn’t write. The play caught me and took so much 
of my space.” 

“I knew — and, besides, I liked better just the few 
incisive words. They gave me a little choke — here. 
But if you’d been mean I should probably have had tea 
waiting (you’re sure you won’t have some, anyway?) 
and been all on edge to spare your feelings. I’d have 
been — well, you know how two women will cover a 
situation with a kiss.” 

“You don’t mean that if I had ?” 

“No, I don’t think I should have gone quite that 
far,” she comforted. 

Nora Bayes on Lovers 

R. BAYES! Mr. Bayes!” 

It was the voice of a page in the 
Congress Hotel, where Miss Nora 
Bayes was lunching Mr. Irving 
Fisher, her handsome young singing 
mate in “The Cohan Revue,” and the 

writer — meaning me. 

“Mr. Bayes! Mr. Bayes!” 

“Perhaps he means you,” said Nora, who was 
meaning young Fisher. 

He accepted the service. “I'll attend to it,” he 
said — whatever it was — “and be back in a little while” ; 
and he left us with one of those highly dental smiles 
through which he sometimes sings. 

Nora’s eyes followed him to the door. “Irving is 
a dear, sweet boy,” she said. “And now — what shall 
we talk of?” 

“Shall we talk of love?” I suggested. 

“Nothing could be happier,” said Nora; and did. 

“There is no success in work or play without it,” 
said Nora — meaning love. 

“How old is the nice boy?” said I, meaning Fisher. 

“Who? Irving? Oh — thirty-four. But he doesn’t 
look within ten years of it, does he? His shyness 
makes him appear younger.” 

“Lucky youth !” 

“He’s a fine, clean nature all the way through. 


A ctorviews 

And you have no idea how bright. He has an elfin, 
Barrie-like spirit.” 

“I’m glad you’re harmonious.” 

“I should say we are,” said she. “Irving Fisher 
does some things that Jack Norworth couldn’t do.” 
“Youth!” I apostrophized. 

“When we are doing a song together, Irving resists 
answering my witticisms. He never spoils them by 
trying to get back at me.” 

“But when you are alone with him ?” 

“Oh, then he’s as funny as can be. He has a fairy- 
like sense of humor.” 

“It’s quite plain that you love him dearly.” 

“I should say I do! You know, sometimes I think 
that of all my mental lovers I love Irving best.” 

“Your what?” 

“Mental lovers is what I said and meant.” 

“I’m afraid I don’t follow.” 

“Why, bless your poor crude soul, I’m beginning 
to thinK you don’t myself.” 

“You mean you aren’t married to him, or going 
to be?” 

“Now what did that dear, sweet boy ever do to 
me that I should make a husband of him!” 

“But from what you said I thought ” 

“Of course you did. You were listening with a 
low, earthly ear while I was talking on a higher plane.” 
“I thought you were talking of love.” 

“I was, you poor fish,” she elegantly answered, 
“but not your kind of love. I meant universal love, 
mental love. That’s the only kind I indulge in — now. 
I want no lovers but mental lovers.” 

“Your plurals are baffling — how many of these 
mental lovers have you?” 

Nora Bayes on Lovers 


“Thirty-six in the trenches and two at home,” said 
Nora Bayes without batting a lash. 

And carefully, painfully she bored it into my heavy 
head that love to Nora Bayes of the nowadays is a 
flame of the spirit and a rapture of the soul. 

“If I had found my religion sooner,” she went on. 
“Jack and I could have been comfortably parted long 
before we were. Oh, not that we ever quarreled ! We 
never did that. Every morning we woke up laughing. 

“But now all my husbands and I are friendly. 
Two of them, my first and third, wrote to me last week 
and I got their letters in the same post. Jack, too, 
has nothing but the best wishes for me.” 

‘T heard a story the other day ” 

“I don’t know what it is. but it isn’t true.” she 
laughed. “All the off-color stories are attributed to 
me. If you want to get an audience in the Lambs’ 
Club all you have to do is say, ‘Here is one that Nora 
Bayes told.’ 

“Why, one day an actor told an awful storv in 
the Lambs’. Said it was one of mine. And who does 
he pick on to tell it to but my second husband, Harry 

“Did Harry kill the actor?” 

“No; none of my husbands are violent men. But 
Harry convinced the actor that I couldn’t have told 
him the story at the time specified — because I wasn’t 
in town when the specified thing happened. 

“Not that it worries me a little bit,” she ran on. 
“My worrying days are over. Now not even an opening 
night rattles me. That’s where my philosophy and 
religion come in. I ask myself: ‘Is there any sane 
reason why God shouldn’t love you on Monday night 


A ctorviews 

in Chicago when He permitted you to be a riot on 
Thursday night in Pittsburgh?’ Not on your life! 

“That’s where the human family is prone to err — 
in trying to make God work according to a human 
time-table. I remember Florence Nash coming to me 
in fear and trembling at the Palace. They’d changed 
her time from four to three, and she was afraid the 
second week’s opening audience would crucify her. 

“ ‘See here,’ I says to Florence, ‘you’ve got a hell 
of a nerve fixing it all up with yourself that God will 
make you good at four o’clock and rotten at three. 
Why, you’re all trembling and sighing like a north 
wind — how do you expect the public to love you when 
you go out to them like that? That’s what’s the matter, 
Florence — you aren’t letting the public love you 

“And while I talked to her the color came back to 
her face and her eves brightened — she had something 
to give. She wouldn’t accent my offer to trade nlaces 
with her in the bill, but went on at three and duplicated 
her four o’clock hit of the week before — and why 

“God.” she summed, “has no union hours.” 

And then she was asking me what was humor 
— as though T could answer that! And wasn’t it some- 
thin?? childlike? — which nobody can denv? And don’t 
you feel in your heart before you do in your head? — 
which, of course, you do. And she named names to 
attest the juvenescenee of her favorite humorists of the 

“Laurette Taylor.” she said, “is a qarnine. Fred 
Stone is an urchin. Warfield is a St. Bernard — in his 
best moments a romping puppy of love and laughter. 

Nora Bayes on Lovers 


And who could be more childlike than Eddie Foy? 
No! I did not say childrenlike. But I will — and laugh 
at it. I always laugh at my own nuttyisms — it helps 
’em along. 

“Yet” — and she paused as though to say, “This is 
going to be profound and way beyond your depth” — 
“yet Jake Shubert, who is our greatest censor of the 
drama, once said to me: 

“ ‘Nora Bayes, who the devil ever told you that 
you are funny?’ ” 

“And Mr. Shubert still lives?” 

“Yes; and so does Sam Bernard. Sam, who is 
my friend, who would do anything for me — Sam says 
to me with honesty in every breath : 

“ ‘Nora, you are our greatest singer of songs, but 
why do you think you must be funny?’ 

“ ‘Sam,’ I answered, ‘you don’t mean to say that 
I have so badly hypnotized myself that I think the 
audience is laughing with me when it’s only laughing 
at me?’ 

“ ‘Sure !’ says Sam. 

“Now, look here, Ashton Stevens,” said Nora 

Bayes, “I want to ask you ” 

“No,” I said, “let me ask you: Do you think 
Nora Bayes is funny?” 

“Yes,” said Nora Bayes, “I think Nora Bayes is 
funny. I think I am Irishly funny. I sit and laugh 
and laugh at some of the things I say. And I wouldn’t 
laugh if they weren’t funny, would I? Of course I 
wouldn’t, you poor fish!” 

“Give me a specimen of your own kind of fun.” 
“All right. I’ll tell you something I wrote to one 
cf my lovers. I wrote to him: 

n 'I am so lonesome for you that I don’t know 



what to do. And Fm so glad that you are not here to 
see how lonesome I am — because it would break your 

“How do you like it?” 

“Fine. Sounds like poetry. Is it?” 

“No, you poor goat; it's an Irish bull, that’s what 
it is. I think it’s almost as funny as Shakespeare’s 
joke — where Desdemona says, ‘Where’s my handker- 
chief?’ And Othello says, ‘Use your sleeve and let the 
show go on.’ I think it is a very good Irish joke, and 
that I am a very good Irish jokess.” 

“When do you go to France?” 

“Fm not going. President Wilson told me he 
thought I could do better work for the soldiers over 
here, if I would. So Fm giving up this job with the 
‘Revue’ pretty soon and traveling around the thirty-six 
Liberty theaters for about twelve weeks. 

“And Fm not," she went on, “doing my bit — just 
because Fm playing all these theaters and taking no 
pay for it and paying my own expenses. 

“Fm doing just a bit of my bit, that’s all,” she 
said with soft star-spangledness. “I want all the 
wives and sisters and sweethearts to know that 
I feel that these audiences, before whom I shall have 
the privilege of appearing, are getting ready to fight 
for us in Europe. They make it possible for America 
to have safe homes to live in — and for me to have 
theaters open in which I can appear and earn my 
living. Fm not making any greater sacrifice than 
Irving Fisher is.” 

“He tours the Liberty Theaters with you?” 

“Yes, and so does another of my inseparable 
mental lovers — Harry Akst, my pianist.” 

“Aren’t you afraid?” 

Nora Bayes on Lovers 


“Of marriage?” 

“It’s been known to happen!” 

“Yes, especially to me. But I’m off the marriage 
stuff for life, my boy. I can love a man now without 
giving up my name and address. I can, so to speak, 
have a new husband for breakfast every morning — 
and without the horrible formality of living with them. 
S-s-sh! Here comes Irving, and there are things he’s 
too young to hear.” 

Lynne Overman’s 
Long Rehearsal 

OMING home after a coca-cola with 
Lynne Overman, who plays (immor- 
tally, I think) the soused hero in “Just 
Married,” I blew the dust from the 
gilt top of my Roget’s “Thesaurus of 
English Words and Phrases” and 
opened the helpful volume at the word Sobriety. For 
while Mr. Overman’s alcoholic art is, as I had learned, 
in the nature of self-expression, he is, in the language 
of a once familiar ballad, on the water wagon now — 
for three years, and, he says, forever. 

Roget, I found, does not list water wagon. 
Sobriety and teetotalism are his only abstract nouns 
under this head. One who does not imbibe is a water- 
drinker, an abstainer, a teetotaler, a Good Templar, 
or, grouped, a band of hope. To take the pledge is 
Roget’s single verb, and for adjectives he allows only 
sober and sober as a judge. A teetotal of exactly ten. 

But under the adjoining head of Drunkenness 
Roget runs on to the tune of some two hundred words 
and phrases. One may revel all the way from 
temulency to tremens, inducing these states by a con- 
sumption of gin, grog or even the Edgar Allan Poetic 
“blue ruin.” One may, according to Roget, p. 413, 
“drain the cup,” “splice the main brace” and “take 
a hair of the dog that bit you” to become a toper, 
a tippler, a soaker or a toss-pot. 

In a word, there are two hundred chances of a 



man becoming what Roget calls potulent as against 
ten of his becoming what he calls a teetotalist. I 
give the figures to show that when Mr. Overman won 
the Great Sahara, the “book” was twenty to one against 

The metaphor reminds me that Mr. Overman, at 
the age of fourteen, began his career as a splicer of 
the main brace, not on the bounding main, but on the 
back of a restless thoroughbred at four-thirty a. m., 
with four ounces of raw whisky in his otherwise empty 
stomach. He did that every morning for many morn- 
ings, on the small-time race tracks of his native 

“The horse owners had a theory,” he told me 
over the coca-cola in the Auditorium Bar — where a 
couple of years ago such fluid would not have been 
served at any price — “that breakfast settled the nerves. 
They wanted all the ‘edge’ they could get from our 
nerves when we stable boys took the horses out for 
exercise at dawn. We got no breakfast till half-past 
nine or so, and started the day with half a tumbler 
or more of whisky. So you see I began where most 
drinkers leave off . . . Yes, you might say that 
up to three years ago, when I quit for keeps, my whole 
life had been spent in training for this pickled part 
in ‘Just Married.’ My performance is getting more 
credit than it’s entitled to. Believe me, old man,” 
he said in his cool level treble, with his cool even 
smile, “it’s more nature than art.” 

Mr. Overman’s mother, to whom he is shyly 
devoted, made a trade with him whereby he could follow 
the horses in Summer so long as he came home for the 
Winter’s schooling. He followed them as stable boy 
and jockey around the county fairs of Missouri and 
as far as Denver and Helena. In Helena he “got the 

Lynne Overman’ s Long Rehearsal 265 

boots,” as he technically explained it, and wandered 
east to Chicago, where he made his first acquaintance 
with the Drama. It was at the Trocadero, where they 
sold stock burlesque to visiting firemen and agrarians, 
and Miss Milly De Leon was the shapely divinity of 
the show. It was her wont to slip a garter at every 
performance and have the damage repaired by an 
envied male confederate who sat in a stage box. 

“So that was your first appearance as an actor?” 
I prematurely concluded. 

“No,” said Mr. Overman; “I never got as high as 
Milly’s garter, but I stood in the lobby and sold imita- 
tions of it for twenty-five cents apiece. They were 
mounted on a plush card and made nice sleeve-holders 
for the firemen. Business was fair; I ate occasionally 
and drank often.” 

When Milly’s garter had exhausted its spell for 
young Mr. Overman, he went to Seattle, where the 
racing and dicing were kind to him, and took his win- 
nings to Sitka, Alaska, where the cost of drinking 
was so high as presently to drive him to commercial 
employment. He clerked for the Pacific Stores 
Company, without becoming the president or even the 
vice-president of that considerable corporation, and 
returned to home and school at Trenton, Missouri, sub- 
sequently to join Ward and Wade’s Mastodon Minstrels. 

“End man?” I asked, hopefully. 

“Not exactly,” said Mr. Overman. “I fetched hot 
water for the end men, and sold song books, and they 
let me play the cymbals in the parade. I forgot what 
I got for doing this, but one day when I told Bide 
Dudley, whose brother was one of the owners of the 
show, that I didn’t get it all, he came back at me in 
his colyum by saying: ‘What the hell’s he kicking 



about? We took him out of Trenton, Missouri, didn’t 
we?’ ” 

“Well,” said I, “anyway, with the minstrel show 
you didn’t have to drink four ounces of whisky every 
day at sunrise.” 

“No,” said Mr. Overman; “with the minstrels 
we didn’t begin drinking till it was time to get up 
for the morning parade. But the nights were longer 
and wetter.” 

He took his savings, such as they were, to Hot 
Springs, Arkansas, where they were disastrously 
invested in craps at a place famed as the White 

“Cleaned!” said he. “I was drinking champagne 
when I went in, and I couldn’t buy a beer when I 
came out.” 

“Aren’t you ever going to become an actor?” 
Mr. Overman’s biographer inquired. 

“Right now I am going to become an actor. A 
friend of mine in Hot Springs gave me his job while 
he went on a week’s vacation, and I played my first 
part in a store window. I was Psycho — ‘Is He Man 
or Wax?’ I sat in front of a horseless piano in a store 
window and the saps would press their noses against 
the glass and bet whether I was stuffed — and I couldn’t 
break my trance to take any of the bets.” 

“That’s where you learned your fatal repose?” 

“That’s where I earned thirty-five dollars and 
learned to appreciate ham and eggs. . . . Then I got 
a job selling Houser’s Elixir with a medicine show 
and enough money to wear good clothes back to Tren- 
ton, Missouri .... and swing on the awning rope 
there in front of George Lee’s Restaurant — ‘Short 
Orders at All Hours’ — and tell the tow boys the 
adventures of a man of travel and a judge of whisky. 

Lynne Overman’s Long Rehearsal 267 

“But I wanted to be an actor, and mother staked 
me to the trip to New York and to two trunks — full 
name on each trunk ; one marked ‘theater,’ one marked 
‘hotel’ ; oh, I went right ! I had a hall room, 4 by 16, 
where I had to stand my trunks one on top of the 
other, and my landlady, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, used to say, 
‘My boy’s an actor, too, and never has a cent, either’ 
“I got a job,” Mr. Overman amazingly went on, 
“as stage manager of a stock company at New Haven. 
It was an awful stock company and I learned a thou- 
sand things that ought not to be done, and I learned 
how not to do a few of them. Then I had thirty-four 
unforgettable weeks with the Gardner & Vincent 
Repertory Company without leaving trie State of 
Pennsylvania. We were quartered in boarding houses 
and even our laundry bills paid for by the show. If 
we wanted a pair of shoes, we had to get an order 
from the manager. But that isn’t why that thirty- 
four-week engagement is unforgettable. Gardner and 
Vincent owed me — they still owe me — four hundred 
and twenty-seven dollars. That’s the correct figure. 
It’s graven on my soul.” 

“But didn’t you get four hundred and twenty- 
seven dollars’ worth of exnerience as an actor?” 

"I was engaged as leading juvenile man and never 
got a beard off my face! I didn’t know, when I took 
the job, that the juvenile man in a repertory company 
always wears the beards and plays Charles, his friend, 
or the sheriff, because the leading man plays all the 
juvenile parts. That’s where I left repertory flat on 
its spine for three long thirsty years while I did 30,000 
miles of travel with number two or number ten 

“Leading man?” 



“God, no! My first job as leading man was with 
a stock company at South Norwalk, Connecticut. I 
lasted eight weeks and nearly died of pride and gin 
fizzes. Then I went to the stock company at Union Hill, 
New Jersey, where Jane Cowl was stock star, and for 
the first time in my life I could say that I was working 
in and about New York.” 

“Leading man?” I persevered. 

“That wasn’t my contract. I went as juvenile 
and expected to wear the beards. But Eugene O’Brien 
was suffering some mental shock or something and 
couldn’t learn his part in ‘Old Heidelberg’; so I got it 
letter perfect in twelve hours — with a pot of coffee 
and a quart of whisky. They apologized for me before 
the first curtain went up, but after the second came 
down they announced me as the leading man for the 
rest of the season. It was champagne for me that 
night. . . . And this is where my little history ceases 
to be interesting, for I was soon in New York, playing 
the lead in ‘Oh, Boy!’ — it’s only the climb, the bumps, 
the is-he-man-or-wax, that’s interesting.” 

“How’d you come to get permanently sober?” 
“Because I couldn’t get any more fun out of being 
permanently drunk. I was being marked as irrespon- 
sible. Managers were giving me warnings. I’d stay 
straight a couple of weeks, then I’d meet up with a 
couple of ball players and it would be all off. I became 
a traveling souse ; I’d come to in strange places. I woke 
up once in Montreal, once in Hot Springs, Virginia, 
another time in New Orleans; and each time I thought 
I was waking up in New York. I got to palling around 
with the dwarfs, those midgets that inhabit the foots 
of beds and take their exercise on the chandelier — those 
midgets that once sent Nat Goodwin to a hospital, 

Lynne Overman’s Long Rehearsal 


where a nurse assured him she had thrown every last 
one of them out of the window. Nat looked out the 
window, and just then the diminutive Marshall P. 
Wilder got out of a cab and Nat had a relapse. Well, 
the dwarfs paid me a long visit. It was my last chance, 
and I took it and quit. I don’t regret a drink I ever 
drank, and I’ll never drink another.” 

It was a long stretch for the fair, lean and lazy 
Lynne Overman, whose words are habitually as spare 
as himself. 

“Then you’ve capitalized a thousand jags in this 
authentic performance?” 

“Well,” he smiled, “I certainly didn’t have to go 
out into the bright places and make a special study of 
the inebriate. I’ll admit the part came awfully easy 
to me.” 

The Self-Doubting 
Pauline Lord 

HAD to work hard,” said Miss Pauline 
Lord. “Look at the face I had to 
overcome !” 

I was looking. Bright brown eyes 
I saw under thick masses of bright 
brown hair; bright teeth in a full 
moDiie mouui ; no positive line of beauty anywhere, but 
everywhere brightness. It was a face that victoriously 
paid the price of intelligence. 

“Great beauty,” I said eloquently, “is a persuasive 
letter of introduction to the Stage, but a handicap to 
anything less than great acting. Maxine Elliott would 
have been a great comedienne if she hadn’t been a 
greater beauty; for she has the intelligence. Now, 
look at Mrs. Fiske !” 

“So many people seem to think she’s the only 
actress I’ve ever looked at!” Miss Lord rejoined. “It 
started years ago when a critic on the Sacramento Bee 
said I reminded him of Mrs. Fiske. And I’d never seen 
Mrs. Fiskey — as I innocently believed her name was 
pronounced. I never saw her till she played George 
Sand. But I suppose the comparison comes from 
our both being rather staccato, and smallish, and 

“You both have in your acting the priceless quality 
of honesty,” I said ; and went on to tell Miss Lord how 
in my youth I had been pained by what seemed to 
me to be the dishonest acting of the spotlit Richard 



Mansfields, and was on the point of leaving the Drama 
supinated, when along came the veracious Minnie 
Maddern Fiske and the credible Nat Goodwin to show 
me that I had not been disrelishing Mr. Mansfield’s 
arch histrionism in vain (of course I am here com- 
pacting my eloquence into fewer, if longer, words). 

“Nat Goodwin!” She echoed the name thrillingly. 
“He was the spirit of acting !” 

“Ah! so that’s where you got your inspiration!” 
“I saw him act when I was very young — out in 
California — and straightway asked him to let me play 
any part so’s to be on the same stage with him. He 
told me to look him up if I ever came to New York. 
I went to New York; I wrote him that I was on my 
way; I thought he’d meet me at the station with a 
part. I found him, and got a part — that big.” She 
measured it on her thumb. 

“Oh, well,” I said, “with that start no wonder 
you’re what and where you are! I only marvel you 
didn’t arrive sooner.” 

“But I played the part so badly,” she said — and 
said as though it might have been played only 
yesterday — “that he said I was absolutely incompetent, 
hopeless. He sent me home.” 

“And I saw that man barter golden manuscripts 
to get Maxine Elliott away from T. Daniel Frawley’s 
stock company ! He sent you home ?” 

“Yes; but I wouldn’t stay sent. I caught up with 
him again, and he made me Edna Goodrich’s under- 
study. For one thing or another she was frequently 
out of the bill — he was playing repertory — and I had a 
chance to play her parts in her clothes, six sizes too 
big for me. I got twenty-five a week, and some weeks 
I earned it.” 

The Self-Doubting Pauline Lord 273 

“Did Nat Goodwin ever tell you that you ‘had it’?” 
“Well, one day when I was pretty much discour- 
aged, he said: ‘Polly, if you’ll burn a little oil you’ll 
become an actress!’ That was enough. I stuck. I 
worked hard — lots of stock; I worked hard in a hard 

“Do you regret it? I mean, do you wish this 
real success had come to you earlier?” 

“Do you think I’m a real success?” she asked 
without guile. 

“Your performance in ‘Anna Christie’ is the best 
thing that’s happened to me in the theater this year. 
You see, I couldn’t quite ‘see’ you as a great actress 
in ‘Samson.’ ” 

“I wasn’t — and I never want to play another 
‘translation.’ ” 

“But my canny and envied colleague, 0. L. Hall, 
‘saw’ you in that translation.” 

“He gave me wonderful encouragement. And in 
‘Anna Christie’ Eugene O’Neill has given me a won- 
derful part. An actress would have to be pretty bad 
to fail in this part. Mr. O’Neill has genius. He has 
a genius for modesty, too.” 

“You’ve got a little of that.” 

“I’ve got a lot of self-doubt, that’s all.” 

“You ought to be a very happy girl.” 

“Instead of which, I keep asking myself, Am I 
happy ?” 

“Didn’t you get a great awakening thrill on the 
New York first night of this play?” 

“It was dramatic. They cheered. I saw hats 
thrown up and caught and thrown again. I can look 
back and see that opening night. But what I most 
clearly see is Mr. O’Neill, hiding back stage behind a 



barrel. He’d die sooner than go out and face his 
audience. I can see him, when the curtain is finally 
down, coming out and shyly praising me in that great 
hour of his!” 

“Arthur Hopkins must have had something to say, 

too, considering the night made you his star?” 

“Yes; he seemed to take it for granted that I had 
reached the time, or the part.” 

“But didn’t you yourself feel the thrill of this 
dramatic first night?” 

“Not a nerve of feeling — for myself. I needed 
success — oh, Lord, how I needed it! — but I had been 
working and hoping for Mr. O’Neill’s play. And when 
I picked up the papers next morning I did not — as 
people of our profession so often do — begin at the 
bottom, looking for my own name. I began at the 

top. . . . Perhaps my intense interest in the play 
helped my performance. My performance was ‘set’ by 
this time; no sudden starship could change it, no 
unaccustomed praise. 

“Perhaps it’s just as well I wasn’t brought up on 
praise,” she dryly smiled. “The best I ever got from 
my mother was: ‘The lady who sat next to me said 
you were awfully good, Polly, so I guess you are !’ My 
brother was more extravagant, because more surprised. 
He said : ‘My God, ma, the kid is good !’ ” 

I explained Miss Lord’s unsudden rise to Miss Lord 
while she filled our cups and invited me to puff my pipe 
in her airy drawing room at the Congress. “Maybe,” 
I said, “you weren’t a sufficiently good bad actress 
in stock.” 

“Maybe !” she laughed, and it was the only time * 
heard her laugh. 

The Self-Doubting Pauline Lord 27 5 

She can be cheerful without laughter; she can be 
cheerful with a rather uncheerful voice; she can be 
cheerful about a professional past which was gray 
when it wasn’t brown. 

“I used to meet actresses at parties who were 
successes,” she was saying, between quick, sometimes 
ironic smiles. “And I’d tell myself that I must be like 
them if I would succeed like them. They'd talk the 
American language Englishly, with that curious exag- 
gerated enrichment, like, like — what’s it like?” 

“Like that,” I said, and arched the little finger 
of the hand that held my cup. 

“Yes; they talked with a curve — with no Vs’ 
where an ‘h’ would do as well, and with a marvelous 
contraction of syllables on words such as ‘circum- 
stances.’ ” She wondrously and convulsingly congested 
that word. “I tried to learn how to pronounce the word 
‘been’ like a vegetable ; in fact, I tried my darnedest to 
conventionalize myself — off stage, always off : I never 
had the nerve to try it on the stage. I should have sick- 
ened with shame. 

“But just the same,” she whimsically confessed, 
“I managed to pick up a little bag of tricks — about six 
tricks. I used all six on a part in a play called ‘The 
Talker,’ and made a so-called hit. But only half of 
the six would fit my next part, and none would fit the 
part after that. So I had to get down to rock bottom 
and begin acting all over again — just plain acting this 
time, without any tricks.” 

“That’s your trick now — no tricks?” 

“I find,” she philosophically answered, “it’s easier 
for me to get people to believe what I say and do on 
the stage when I believe it myself.” 

Brownie and Bunny of 
“The Follies” 

T is not for me to say that Brownie 
Curtis and Bunny Butler are the beau- 
tifullest show girls in all the “Ziegfeld 
Follies.” In the first place, I don’t 
want to be mobbed by forty-eight other 
“Follies” girls who may be of forty- 
eight other opinions. In the second place, Brownie 
and Bunny aren’t. 

They are beauties — of course ! But limited trains 
do not stop for them without signal, nor does the traffic 
policeman, when they pass by, cross his mittened 
fingers and try to think of the loved ones at home. 
Bank cashiers have not — yet — betrayed their trust for 
the sake of Bunny and Brownie, and as these words 
wind to press, Brownie and Bunny haven’t got a single 
silk-lined limousine to their backs. 

Not homely girls, you will have the wit to know: 
there are no homely girls in Mr. Ziegfeld’s company — I 
mean chorus. But Brownie and Bunny are sort of 
homelike girls. They are, for their station in the 
drama, strangely grammatical and they never use the 
knife when the fork will do as well. They might be 
somebody’s daughters. In fact, they are. But that is 
not our story. 

I first met them at a party, where they were the 
joy and solace of the declining night; their laughter 
flowed like wine, and was as plentiful. I heard them 
say, “We’re just a couple of ‘Follies’ girls!” 



“How does it come,” I said, “that two human 
intelligences got into one ‘Follies’ chorus?” 

“We laughed ourselves in,” said Brownie. 

“And sometimes,” said Bunny, “we think the joke 
was on us.” 

“Franklin two-one-two-oh,” I said a few days later. 

“Give me eight-ten,” I said. 

“We aren’t supposed to ring that room till three,” 
said the voice at the Sherman, “and it’s only a 
quarter of.” 

“I am speaking for Mr. Ziegfeld,” I lied. 


“Hello,” said a sleepy voice. 

“Good morning. I’m the man that said he’d write 
your interview. Is that you, Bunny?” 

“No; Brownie — does it make any difference?” 

“Not a bit. Where’ll I meet you girls?” 

“You pick some nice clean alley.” 

“How about breakfast?” 

“I’m dieting.” 

“Make it the Drake, then,” I magnificently said — 
“in thirty minutes.” 

“Make it forty,” said Brownie. “We were dancing 
again last night. It’ll take me ten minutes to bring 
Bunny back to life.” 

And forty-five minutes later — which I thought 
pretty good time — the girls were there, and crisp as 

No blondes, Brownie and Bunny, but a brace of 
lovely brownheads ; bobbed, of course ; and their loveli- 
ness was so perfectly darkly dressed that I couldn’t 
tell you what they wore under their squirrel and beaver 
coats if my life depended on it. Brown-eyed, both, and 

Brownie and Bunny of “The Follies” 


Bunny’s brown hair a shade-and-a-half darker than 
Brownie’s. It was Brownie who was dieting, so I 
don’t have to say that Bunny is the slightly slimmer. 
Oh, not that Brownie is too ! 

I was interrupted in this contemplation by a ques- 
tion from Bunny 

“Do you think we look alike?” 

“No— o.” 

“Thank you !” said Bunny. 

“Thank you!” said Brownie. “When we wake up 
every morning, facing the same old faces, it’s some 
comfort to know they don’t look alike.” 

“Have you a cigaret?” said Bunny to Brownie. 

“I’m going to get you a long cigaret holder — to 
keep you away from cigarets,” said Brownie to Bunny. 

“Don’t expect me to laugh at that one before 
breakfast,” said Bunny, powdering her grapefruit. 
“And, anyway, I have a dim recollection you pulled 
it last night.” 

“Let the dead night bury its dead,” Brownie 
warned. “I was only rehearsing it last night. You 
don’t expect me to pull anything on a critical audience 
like this without a tryout ! I might get my part taken 
away !” 

“Your part!” laughed Bunny. 

“Just what are you distinguished for in the 
‘Follies’?” I asked Brownie. 

“You know Jessie Reed?” she asked me. 

“The ‘Follies’ beauty,” said I, “over whose Titian 
hair Blythe Daly sighed rapturously when she said, 
‘Oh, Jessie, you’re so Venetian!’?” 

“And Jessie answered, ‘I don’t think you’re so 
damned good yourself!' I see you know Jessie,” said 
Brownie. “Then you know she’s the highest-salaried 
show girl in the ‘Follies.’ Well, I’m the lowest.” 



“Lower than Bunny?” 

“Even lower than Bunny.” 

“Bunny,” I said, tactlessly, “why are you more 
extravagantly paid than Brownie?” 

“Because she wears a mask,” flashed Brownie. 

“But I don’t get the extra salary for what I cover 
up in that scene,” flashed back the one who doesn’t 
diet to the one who does. 

“Girls, don’t mar one another!” I put in pacifi- 
catingly. “Tell me your story — how you came to go 
‘Follying’ — I’ll bet it’s as interesting as ‘Robinson 
Crusoe.’ ” 

“Crusoe?” picked up Brownie, to whose zig-zag 
intelligence any word is a cue. “Who’s going to be 
Friday ?” 

“Because,” came Bunny, “I want to be Saturday 

“She’s got a quick memory,” said Brownie. 

“Quick lunches have made me what I am,” said 
Bunny, indolently assaulting the truffled omelet. 

“I told you,” said the incorrigible Brownie, “we 
ought to get up a gold diggers’ union and cut out the 
one-armed chairs. A junior gold diggers’ union, with 
rules and everything.” 

“What’s a junior gold diggers’ first rule?” I 
inquired, in the interests of literature. 

Bunny thought a moment, while we watched her, 
and then she said: “Never accept books, flowers or 
candy from a — married man.” 

“If you can’t get anything better,” said Brownie, 
“take a bottle of perfume and you’ll never be without 
a scent.” 

“And the first thing you do,” said Bunny, “get 
your jewelry out of hock.” 

Brownie and Bunny of “ The Follies ” 281 

“Then,” said Brownie, “buy yourself some 

“And last of all,” said Bunny, “when you can’t 
think of anything else, pay the rent.” 

These daughters of night and laughter were not 
always so. The ‘Follies’ is their first show. Less than 
a year ago New York and Chicago and the Drama 
were not even dreams to them. They were Ohio home 
girls, friends since they were ten, wearing fraternity 
pins and going to bed at twelve. 

But one day Brownie read a magazine and 
discovered that Columbus, 0., was only a minor 
metropolis. She would investigate the world. She 
telephoned to her inseparable : 

“Hello, Bunny. Wanta go to New York City?” 
“Yes. When? To-morrow?” 

“No; to-day.” 


“And for four months in New York.” Brownie 
told me, over her dietary crisp bacon and Melba toast, 
“life for us was just one party.” 

“Then,” sighed Bunny, “our money gave out.” 
“And a nice man,” Brownie went on from there, 
“who lived near us in New York and edited a smart 
magazine, said, ‘Why don’t you girls go into the 

“ ‘Why don’t we go into the First National Bank?’ 
I asked him. 

“ ‘Oh, I’ll introduce you to the “Follies,” ’ the 
editor said, and gave us a note.” 

“We spent an hour,” Bunny confessed, “deciding 
what we’d wear.” 

“Is the wear important when a girl seeks a place 
with Ziegfeld?” I was curious to know. 



“Absolutely !” the two girls answered as one. 

“And we had sense enough — I don’t know where 
we got it,” Bunny confessed — “to wear trim, tailory 
things and no paint.” 

“Our faces were almost nude,” Brownie said, 
“when we went in and talked to Mr. Ziegfeld’s Mr. 
Hope — another nice man.” 

“I’ll say he was a nice man !” from Bunny. 

“Nice as you,” Brownie flattered; “and we talked 
to him much as we’re talking to you. He said, ‘Any 
experience on the stage?’ And when Bunny said, ‘Do 
we have to answer that?’ he said, ‘No; I don’t think 
you do. So they’re two little girls from Columbus, are 
they?’ he went on, laughing to himself, ‘And they’re 
going to bust right into a show, are they? Well, you're 
the only girls with a sense of humor I’ve seen this 
Summer; stick around for a couple of w r eeks, if you 
can afford to live that much longer, and I’ll see what I 
can do.’ ” 

“It was three weeks after that,” Bunny picked up, 
“that Ziegfeld, at one of those terrifying elimination 
rehearsals, saw Brownie sitting on a rail — trust her 
to pick a high spot! He called out: ‘Hey! You! You 
girl from Columbus!’ And Brownie jumped down, 
grabbed me by the hand and hauled me along with her. 
Trust her to do that too !” 

“What did Mr. Ziegfeld say to you?” I asked 

“ ‘Which of you girls is the one from Columbus?’ 
“ ‘Both of us,’ I answered, and Bunny and I both 
laughed. So did Ziegfeld. 

“ ‘All right,’ he said, ‘I’ll take these two.’ 

“Now,” added Brownie, “you know why the 
‘Follies’ have been successful this year!” 

Brownie and Bunny of “ The Follies n 


“They ran excursions when we visited Columbus,” 
Bunny laughed. 

“And the home papers printed us on the front 
page,” said Brownie. “I felt sorry for Hitchy and 
Fanny Brice, doing — you know — the best they could. 
My soft Italian heart was touched.” 

“Brownie was born over here, but she’s a Wop way 
back,” Bunny interpolated. 

“How many parents back?” I asked our Italian 

“Forefathers,” she flashed. 

“God love you, and keep you, Brownie!” applauded 
Bunny — “I can’t afford to.” 

Breakfast with a Perfect Lady 

j Er~ ? j^ n | TRS PATRICIA COLLINGE’S was 

JB what I may call Irish hospitality — with 
/j| tact and a bull in it. She invited you 
Is to luncheon and served you breakfast, 
V fl which is the only possible meal between 
l i„ . dawn and dinner for a man who works 
in the night and sleeps “beneath the sun.” 

Those eggs! Those firmly poached eggs on a sub- 
structure of lean amber toast plated with anchovy! 
. . . . But I am not here to paint a still life nor 
inform a cook book. For that matter, my delightful 
entertainer did not attempt to acquire merit through a 
perfect breakfast. “I tell Blanche,” she said, as 
Blanche brought round the dish again and helped me 
help myself to another egg, “what I think I’d like, and 
Blanche tells me what she thinks I can have.” 

Blanche, apparently, is the staff at Miss Collinge’s 
apartment, and a complete one. What with a staff in 
North Dearborn Street like Blanche and a play at the 
Blackstone like “Just Suppose,” Miss Patricia Collinge 
ought to be a very happy girl this season ; and I told 
her so, and she told me she was. 

But then I suppose it isn’t nice breakfast manners 
to talk about your own nice play the very first rattle 
out of the egg basket; and for a while Miss Collinge 
glistened with dewy delight in the freshness of “Dulcy,” 
the play of the bromide lady at the Cort. 

“After seeing Lynn Fontanne in that diabolic 



comedy,” she told me, “I’m afraid to talk the good old 
bromides ; I’ve lost the courage of my platitudes.” 

“Charles Collins told me he said a terrible thing 
at a party the other day,” I told her. “When a lady 
said that some one had said she was just like Didcy 
in the play, the demon critic, before he could catch 
himself, said, ‘You are.’ ” 

“1 know,” said Miss Collinge, in sadness as much 
as in mirth — “it was my party.” 

But let me tell you it was good for the soul and 
digestion to hear the acid bite of “Dulcy” intelligently 
praised by a girl who for three long years had suffered 
and prospered in the civilization-retarding optimisms 
of the honey-hearted “glad” girl in “Pollyanna.” 

“Where’d you get your soft southern speech for 
Linda Lee in ‘Just Suppose’?” I was asking seriously 
enough, when she brought out a tiny scale of silvern 
laughter and cut me off with, “In Dublin, where I was 
born ; I get all my accents there, and you know I do. 
I feel I’m irreparably Irish.” 

“But you’re an American citizen now?” 

“No,” she answered without hesitation, then hesi- 
tated: “I’ve — I’ve put it off — thinking perhaps I’d 
marry and come into my naturalization automatically.” 
“Oh, yes,” I said as lightly as I could, “I heard 
you were engaged. Who is the lucky” — (I wanted to 
say “stiff” ; my whole vulgar heart was bursting with 
“stiff”) — “man?” I finally contrived to utter; and 
found I didn’t need my epithet after all. For she 
comfortingly replied: “I’m not engaged to any one. 
My last reported engagement,” she went on with 
splendid gravity, “was to Charlie Chaplin.” 

“You’re not going to !” 

“How can I tell ? I’ve never met him.” 

Breakfast With a Perfect Lady 287 

“Who’ve you seen lately — that’s interesting?” 
“Sinclair Lewis and he’s as wonderful as ‘Main 
Street.’ ” 


“And his wife is adorable.” 

“Oh. — How’s your mother?” 

“Well, thank you, and in The East. When I told 
somebody you were coming today, that somebody said, 
‘What are you going to do for a mother?’ ” 

“It’s awfully cozy just as we are,” I said and 
moved the cigarets. 

“It is nice,” said the girl who once was “Polly- 
anna’s” gusher of “gladness”; and lighted one and 
puffed contentedly. 

Never judge an actress by the parts she plays. 
Just the same, I should say that there is more of the 
real up-close Patricia Collinge in “Just Suppose” than 
there was in any of the sirupy sundaes that went 
before this male and meaty love story. Her pride, 
her wit, her wistful distinction have outlet in this 
(for two acts, anyway) beautifully written and always 
beautifully cast romance of the South. And we talked 
this over at a length which may not be indicated here. 

“I’ve heard,” I said, “that you went shopping for 
the soft southern speech of Linda Lee.” 

“I was on the lookout, I’ll admit; I trailed South- 
erners who sounded ‘right.’ And one day in a New 
York shop I came upon a shopgirl whose speech was 
everything I desired. She had the most delicious 
southern accent. ‘An F. F. V.,’ I told myself, ‘who 
lost all her money and came to work in this nice shop.’ 
I looked at a lot of things I didn’t need — just to hear 
her talk; I even bought some. At last I said: 
“‘You’re from the South?’ 



“ ‘No, I’m from Brooklyn,’ the girl said, beauti- 
fully, softly, southernly. 

“ ‘But you must have lived in the South,’ I said, 
‘before you went to Brooklyn, else how could you have 
such a lovely southern accent?’ 

“ ‘I’ve always lived in Brooklyn,’ she told me in 
the same delightful way — ‘maybe it’s my false teeth.’ ” 
I relished that almost as much as I relished an 
hour of improving and unprintable discourse on the 
Drama. But I could have kissed her where she smoked 
(not that! — but of course you know your Princess Pat 
even if you don’t know me) when, I forget just how, 
she herself used the phrase “glad girl,” and spoke it 
like one tasting poison. And when I asked her for her 
honest-to-God opinion of that sickening optimist, 
Patricia Collinge vindicated my high faith in her by 
saying : 

“I always felt that if Polyanna lived near me I’d 
brain her.” 

Making It Up with the Bordoni 

T i. .[HE little word “bonehead” was not once 

spoken, up in Irene Bordoni’s room, 
when, without any formal funeral, we 
buried the hatchet and sat down 
together like the lioness and the lamb. 
_________ Some reader with a twelve-month 

memory may recall that that little word, descriptively 
applied by her to the intelligence of Chicago audiences, 
got itself written into my last interview with this 
lovely creature, causing her pungently to protest in 
print and me to reply politely if not infirmly. 

But neither of us uttered the fatal word now, and 
I am sure that each secretly applauded the other for 
her and his tact. We had met the night before at 
dinner — at a laughing, joyous dinner where her words 
were brighter than her jewels — and she had said, in 
answer to my request, which came with the coffee: 
“Another interview? Sure. On one condition: 
that you write what I say.” 

“Make it two conditions: that you say you say 
what I write.” 

She had laughed; and here we were — “together 
again,” as George Cohan and Willie Collier used to 
sing after a season’s separation; and the bonehead of 
our contention was never mentioned. You see, I had 
forgiven Bordoni for the loveliness of her performance 
in her new piece at Powers’, “The French Doll”; and 
Bordoni had forgiven me for the rapture of my review 
of it in The Herald and Examiner. 



“I should never have expected that review from 
the way you wear your face in the first row, so long, 
so blank, so dismal. I don’t ask applause from a 
critic, I don’t ask laughter,” she went on, moving from 
her seat at the piano to a chair nearer to me and 
rhythmically rocking a gemmed slipper in the bar of 
late afternoon sunlight that fell across her living room 
in the Congress Hotel, “but I do ask for a smiling face. 
And you were so cold. Ugh! It was a face of hard 

“That must have been when you were in a love 
scene,” I said, “and I was trying not to cry.” 

“But I did not know that then,” she sighed. “I 
looked at you and I said to my companion on the stage, 
under my breath : ‘Look in the front row there at my 
enemy, so cold, so cruel-faced!’ And my companion, 
he say: ‘Don’t mind him. Look at the lady with him 
and be happy!’ 

“And I look at her with her beautiful smiles and 
her glad eyes and I was a little happy. ‘Maybe,’ I say 
to myself, ‘she will reflect some of her happiness on 
my enemy.’ 

“I couldn’t believe it when I read the paper next 
morning. I cry — almost. And when I tell my husband 
over the long-distance in New York — for he had been 
greatly worried because what you might say about our 
opening, with your great enmity for me — when I tell 
him he say, ‘Ha ! now I suppose he is your f rrrriend !’ ” 

She said “friend” as only a Frenchwoman can, and 
I swelled visibly in the implication. 

She was beautiful today in black crepe bordered 
with bronze. A single garment it seemed, and cut by 
a master sculptor. Her sky-slanted nose, tiny red-rose 
mouth, strong beautiful white teeth that could kill a 
careless critic in one bite, firm unsubdivided forward 

Making It Up With the Bordoni 291 

chin and big brown humid burning eyes, fairly trilled 
in the golden sunglare. Yet I felt it my duty to say, 
and I said, “Bordoni, why do they advertise you this 
season as a beauty?” 

“My press agent, a very smart man, he say,” she 
answered lucidly, “that the public they don’t care a 
damn about a good play, but that they will come to 
see a beautiful woman.” 

“Do you think you’re a beautiful woman?” 
“Oooooooh ! perhaps no. But maybe I have a per- 
sonality. I don’t think I am beautiful — no — but — well, 
they say you can’t see yourself! Anyhow, I believe 
more in personality than in beauty. It is the same 
as in singing.” 

“Do you think you’ve got a voice?” 

“Do you think I’ve got a voice?” 

“No. But I’d rather hear you sing ‘Do It Again’ 
than Galli-Curci sing a whole opera.” 

“It is personality,” said Bordoni. 

“Not to mention art,” said I. 

“That is for you to say,” smiled Bordoni. 

“I’ll tell the — what is that immortal line in your 
play?” I asked Bordoni, just to hear her say it. 

“I’ll tell the cock-eyed world!” she laughed. 

“Do you always wear your hair like that, in a 
Bordoni bang?” 

“Always. And before me my mother. When I was 
so young I can hardly remember she cut it off in 
front — snip ! You must see our picture.” She fetched 
it out of an old book of Russia leather. “See my 
mother and me with the same bang. See me here in 
my communion dress, with all the hair hanging down 
my back.” She looked like a black-headed Sutherland. 
“I had a funny grandfather, too. When he take me 
walking he sit me down on a bench first and let down 


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my hair and tie it that way with a big ribbon, so all the 
world see his granddaughter’s hair. 

“But my mother tie it back when I go to school,” 
she raced. “She tie it all back but the bang. And 
the teachers want to tie that back, too. Because they 
very clean in the French schools and do not want 
anything get into the pupils’ heads but what they put 
there. But I say, ‘No, you cannot tie back the bang. 
Tf you do I tell my mother, who will go to the depart- 
ment of public instruction and complain. The Bordoni 
family,’ I tell the teachers, ‘they always wear the hair 
this way, and we call it’ — and I say it to the teachers 
in French — ‘the hair dressed like the dog.’ 

“Are you coming to my concert next Friday?” 
“Wild horses couldn’t keep me from it. But why 
do you give concerts?” 

“To hear myself sing in all the languages I know, 
and in Spanish, which I don’t know. And to make 
money. I hope to make enough money in concerts not 
to have to go into vaudeville between plays.” 

“What’s the matter with vaudeville?” 

“Nothing. It’s me what’s the matter. I am all 

right for the downstairs. But the upstairs ” She 

hesitated, but she positively did not utter the word 
bonehead. “I am,” she started all over, “too French, 
too Parisian, too, what you say? subtle for the upstairs 
of vaudeville. Is that the right word, subtle?” 

“Yes, and the word was made for you,” I told 
Bordoni, on whom a solitaire diamond ring bearing 
a stone so huge it might have had a name as well as 
an address, was the final note of subtlety. This crown 
jewel was cut flat on top, like a historied ruby; and it 
didn’t flash, it burned; it was Bordonilike. “Why,” I 
asked its wearer, “are French women so much subtler 
in what they wear than American women?” 

Making It Up With the Bordoni 


She felt for the reason, found it, and phrased it 
perfectly. “The Frenchwoman has color-modesty. She 
won’t,” Bordoni went on, “w r ear a green hat with a red 
bag and an orange dress. Color is as delicate as per- 
fume to a Frenchwoman of taste.” 

“Yet all the violent perfumes seem to come from 

“It’s the way they’re used that make them vio- 
lent,” she countered. “I scent a handkerchief to-day 
for to-morrow’s use — and then with, oh, such a little 
drop. Myself I perfume only in the bath, where most 
of it can be rubbed away — never sweet; never strong. 
People on the stage that have to come close to me say, 
T never smell anybody like that !’ ” 

It was like a song, that last phrase, “I nevaire 
smell anybody like that!” — a French, jazzy companion- 
ditty to “Do It Again.” But I didn’t suggest melodizing 
the subtlety of scent. I thought of the classic “And I 
smell like Mary Garden, my God, ain’t that enough!” 
and refrained, asking Bordoni only where and how she 
had got the rights to “Do It Again.” 

“I’ll tell you how I got that song, after heartbreak 
and anguish,” and she showed me the revolving whites 
of her eyes. “My husband’s friend, George Gershwin, 
wrote it, and sang it to me, and said no, I couldn’t 
have it for a play because he and his partner wanted 
to save it for a musical comedy and make a lot of 
money. I couldn’t beg him, I couldn’t bribe him. And 
then one day came the benefit matinee for the Jewish 
children, which Mr. Gershwin was handling. All his 
big stars which he advertise they send him telegrams 
to say they could not appear, and he telephone to me in 
tears to help him out. ‘I’ll do anything in God’s world 
for you if you’ll come and sing a song,’ he said. 

“ ‘My dear friend,’ I say, ‘there’s only one song 



I like to sing at your benefit for the Jewish children, 
and that is your own “Do It Again.” ’ 

“ ‘All right, sing that — sing anything !’ 

“ ‘But,’ I say, ‘if I sing that once I want to sing 
that always. I want to put it in my new play.’ 

“ ‘But my partner !’ 

“ ‘No the song, no the Bordoni !’ I say, and stick 
to it. And five minutes, ten minutes later, he telephone 
back that it is all right with his partner and I can have 
the song for ‘The French Doll.’ So I sang it for the 
Jewish children’s benefit and have been singing it ever 
since. But I don’t sing it for the Victrola. They 
wouldn’t let me — and you can’t guess the reason why.” 
“Your voice?” I tried, timidly. 

“Certainly not! It is a very good voice for the 
Victrola. But the good people who make the records 
they say the song is too naughty! What do you call 

people who say things like that — Vic, Viet ?” 

“Victrolians,” I helped out. 

“I thought so,” said Bordoni. 

Luck and Frank Bacon 

KNEW Frank Bacon in San Francisco 
when a stock company paid him thirty 
dollars a week and overpaid drama 
critics with a like income didn’t have 
sense enough to “see” the beautifully 
understated acting of an underpaid 
genius. But he bears no malice for that, saying we 
didn’t think much less of him than he thought of 
himself — only maybe he enjoyed his work a little bit 
more than we did. 

I used to meet him in O’Farrell street two or three 
times a week. More of an agriculturist than an actor 
he seemed to me; and he used to tell me slow, dry 
stories of his ups and downs, although I can’t recall 
any of the ups. I remember vividly enough, however, 
that he never looked or talked like an actor, not even 
like the kind of an actor we wise young men of the 
West believed him to be. 

I remembered this and reminded him of it when 
I went up to his room in the Blackstone, saying, 
“Frank, your success in ‘Lightnin’ ’ doesn’t seem to 
have made you any more of an actor off the stage. 
You don’t, as the temperaments say, seem to live your 
part twenty-four hours a day.” 

Bacon shook his silver head. His gentle lips 
smiled and his faded blue eyes blinked humorously 
behind their shell rims and under their overgrown 
brows. “Do you remember,” he said, “a fellow you 



interviewed once in San Francisco who played Abra- 
ham Lincoln in vaudeville — a fellow named Chapin?” 
“I should say,” I said. “He wouldn’t see me any- 
where but in his dressing room; and although it was 
Monday and no matinee, I found him there completely 
made up as Lincoln.” 

“Chapin went to New York,” Bacon drawled, “and 
got to wearing a shawl on the street; and a fellow 
says, ‘That guy ain’t going to be satisfied till he’s 
assassinated.’ ” 

Accounting for this success which he carries as 
lightly as his squint, Bacon warned me not to overlook 
the element of luck. “If,” he said, “one of Henry W. 
Savage’s actors — I can’t think of his name for the 
minute — hadn’t been held to his contract with a piece 
on the road I shouldn’t be playing Lightnin’ Bill Jones 

“I don’t make the connection, Frank.” 

“You remember when I played the old inventor 
here in ‘The Fortune Hunter’ about eleven years ago? 
You ought to remember it, because you gave me a 
good notice — the best I ever got from you out on the 
coast was to be called a gum-shoe comedian, because 
I was so soft and slow. Not that this good notice 
was wholly deserved! ‘Mother’ had read it before she 
came out and saw the performance, after which she 
says to me: ‘What’s all this talk about? I’ve seen 
you do lots of things better in stock.’ 

“But what I started to tell you was that I had 
been fired out of that part in ‘The Fortune Hunter’ 
by the managers and was only kept because the actor 
they wanted to replace me couldn’t get away from a 
Savage show in time. And Shelley Hull was to have 
been canned, too. Yes, Hale Hamilton was booked to 

Luck and Frank Bacon 


play his original part. His trunk was packed. Then 
they discovered that the actor who was to have my 
part couldn’t get away. So the managers said — I 
heard the story two years after, and Sam Harris didn’t 
deny it when I one day brought it up — the managers 
said, ‘Oh, let ’em both stay!’ 

“Hull and I happened to be the only ones of that 
outfit who lived to see their names in electrics — but 
never forget to figure luck! If I’d lost that chance I 
might never have had another; and I’ve often won- 
dered what my next move would have been. I had 
come East with a small-time vaudeville sketch ; I 
wanted to get a small position in the big time; I had 
no idea of trying for the legitimate. And when I got 
to New York about the only person I knew there was 
Jimmy Montgomery. You know Jimmy?” 

“Yes,” I said, refilling my pipe with imported 
tobacco, the first fatal taste of which was furnished me 
by the author and proprietor of “Irene” ; “he’s the mil- 
lionaire who taught me to smoke beyond my means.” 
“He wasn’t much of a millionaire when I first knew 
him ; he was,” said Bacon in that gum-shoe way of his, 
“leading man at the Central Stock Company in San 
Francisco, and used to board with ‘mother* and me — 
many’s the time I’ve gone into the kitchen and found 
Jimmy pressing his pants. Well, I looked Jimmy up 
in New York. He had a little part in ‘The Fortune 
Hunter,’ and he said, ‘Frank, I think I can get you 
a good part for the Chicago production.’ He went 
down to the Cohan and Harris office and insisted I was 
the fellow. . . . More luck.” 

“Frank, did you ever feel in the old days that you 
were a big actor needing only the chance?” 

“No, I bonest-to-God didn’t. I think ‘mother* 



thought I had it in me, but I — I don’t remember ever 
saying to myself, ‘Some time I’ll show ’em!’ No, I 
was satisfied to be one of the also-rans. I liked the 
work; I was satisfied. I don’t think I’m any happier 
today. The only difference, as I said to my wife the 
other day, ‘the only difference, “mother,” is that when 
the bell rings I don’t have to ask you to go to the 
door to see who it is.’ ” 

“Mrs. Bacon always had faith in you?” 

“Well, most of the time. She even had faith in 
this play when I was peddling it from manager to 
manager and they were all telling me the public wasn’t 
interested in the character of an old man and a failure 
to boot. But after ‘mother’ saw the first night at 
Atlantic City, where we played in too big a house, all 
she said, as we rode along the walk in a wheel chair, 
was: ‘Well, Frank, is this what we’ve been building 
on these last three years?’ . . . You know, anyway, 
she likes comedy a little more high-toned than 

“Mrs. Bacon doesn’t say Bill Jones is the best 
you’ve ever done!” 

“Not by a long shot! She’d rather see me in 
‘The Professor’s Love Story.’ She didn’t believe the 
first night of ‘Lightnin’ ’ had set New York afire — 
neither did everybody else, and I was one of ’em. You 
know our company, with the exception of Miss Oaker 
and one or two others, was all raw western material 
that had never seen Broadway before. They didn’t 
know anything about a rehearsed first-night audience, 
brought in on passes and instructed when to let go. 
But I told ’em not to let the laughter and applause 
go to their heads. I was wise. And when Mr. Golden, 
after the performance, asked me to come to the office 
to-morrow morning and get a few passes for friends 

Luck and Frank Bacon 


who might appreciate the show, I was wise enough 
to know he wanted me to get folks in there who could 
make a noise like applause. I was the wisest feller 
on Broadway that night. But when I went down to 
get the passes next morning at eleven, Eddie Dunne 
told me I couldn’t have ’em because the whole house 
was sold.” 

“What’s the smallest salary you ever got, Frank?” 
“Well, I got thirty the first year at the Alcazar 
in San Francisco, and then the managers called me 
into the office and said I’d done such good work they 
were going to raise me. They gave me thirty-five. 
But I got less than that when Pershing first saw me.” 
“General Pershing?” 

“Yes; he was a lieutenant then, stationed at Fort 
Baird, N. M., when I played there with a barnstorming 
company that never had any salary day. We started 
out with eleven people, and I was number eleven ; but 
by the time our company was diminished to five I’d 
been promoted so many times I found mvself leading 
man. I remember our manager got awfully sore at 
Fort Baird because we played, as it was called, on 
credit. That is, we let the soldiers in on tickets given 
out by a sergeant, the price to be deducted from 
the soldiers’ next pay. They’d had a pay day just 
before we arrived, and the manager was sore all the 
way through when he found thev got their pay only 
three times a year — because we’d had a good house, 
two hundred and thirteen dollars, and only thirteen 
dollars of it was cash.” 

“But where does Pershing come in?” 

“Many years later — at a performance of ‘Light- 
nin’ ’ and a banquet in his honor in New York. I 
had changed my little curtain speech after the second 


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act and made it more of a soldier talk than usual. I 
was getting along pretty well when the horrible 
thought came to me — remembering vaudeville — that I 
hadn’t got my ‘exit.’ How was I going to wind up 
my speech? Just then the voice of an angel whispered 
it to me: ‘General, I salute you.’ And turning to him 
where he sat in the box of honor, I said it and gave 
him the salute. And,” Bacon finished with a pardon- 
able thrill, “Pershing rose and stood at attention as 
I left the stage.” 

“Then you and the general got to talking at the 
banquet and ?” 

“Yes — he remembered the barnstormers.” 

“But not the man who was going to play Bill 
Jones ?” 

“No more than I remembered the lieutenant who 
was going to win the war.” 

“And that’s how you became an actor?” 

“No; started with Warfield; and was a news- 
paperman first.” 

“Great heavens, Frank, you wouldn’t lie out of 
your part!” 

“Don’t have to. I was a newspaper man. I 
solicited ads for the San Jose Mercury, started a paper 
at Mountain View, and bought one, a daily, in Napa. 
It was while I was running the one in Napa that 
Warfield came along, barnstorming with Fanny Wood, 
and I made my first professional appearance with him 
as Dan in ‘The Streets of New York.’ And I guess I 
thought about as much of his acting then as he thought 
of mine.” 

“What’s the secret of acting, Frank? You’re 
fiftiy-seven ; you’ve got ‘Lightnin’ ’ behind you and 
before you; you ought to know. What is it?” 

He thought a moment. Then he said : “Learn all 

Luck and Frank Bacon 


you can about acting, and then don’t do it. What you 
do in a play is what you don’t do.” 

“Is that the way you act Bill Jones?” 

“I think so. Bill’s the easiest part in the world 
to play without playing, because he’s pretty true — and 
if you’re tired he gives you lots of chances to lean. 
Did you ever see a cuss could lean more’n Bill?” 

An Unprintable Interview With 
Miss Cowl 

ELL, girls, you won’t have to write to 
me any more about that. I’m doing 
it now — I’m interviewing your beloved 
Jane Cowl for you. And, my dears, 
you should see the setting! 

Private dining room on floor A of 
Blackstone. Nuts and ferns and everything on a round 
table big enough for ten. Eight gold chairs idling 
against the walls. Two gold chairs side by each at 
the east sector of the table, and in ’em Jane and me 
— just Jane and me. 

It is dinner and she wears her pearls, and is as 
pretty as any lucent one of them. Yours devotedly 
wears nocturnal patent leathers and what he fancies 
goes with them — and hopes, he fondly hopes, that the 
pressed suit doesn’t emit an odor of recent gassing. 

But there is an odor — the tell-tale fume of a pipe. 
In the excitement I’ve declined a cigaret at the hands 
of the master waiter and unpocketed my plebeian 
smoking instrument. Now what to do with the infernal 
thing! I try to laugh like a man of the world, but it 
is very hollow. 

“Forgive me,” I say in a voice that mother 
wouldn’t know, “forgive me,” I say with arch humor, 
“if I appear to put my pipe on one of your gold chairs.” 
And I do the terrible thing. 



And she, gracious girl, with the hospitality of a 
duchess, she says: 

“I think gold chairs should be reserved for that 
purpose exclusively.” 

I don’t believe that the princess who was giving 
tea to the chiropodist at a charity bazaar, and promptly 
broke her own saucer and exclaimed, “How brittle 
they are!” when the unlucky foot artist thrust his 
elbow through a piece of royal porcelain — I don’t 
believe that that princess was kinder than, and surely 
not so witty as Jane Cowl is when she puts gold chairs 
in their proper place to make my poor pipe and me 
feel comfortable at her feast. 

And yet she tells you that she doesn’t know how 
to be interviewed by a chap like me (who gets so 
much serious theater when he’s firstnighting that he 
sometimes believes the queens of the stage should write 
it themselves when they have solemn inspirations on 
the subject of The Drama). Yes, Jane says she fears 
she’s not the sort of person that makes good reading 
next to pure Lardner — or words to that effect. 

“I’m afraid of you when you ‘kid’,” she says — 
while I’m trying to make out which fork goes with 
fish with fried almonds on it. 

“How do you figure forks?” I ask, helplessly — 
both the master waiter and just the waiter are beyond 

“Work from left to right and let the knives take 
care of themselves — only that silver dirk is your butter 
knife,” my perfect hostess answers — and you feel sure 
that she will keep your secret. 

“What’s the name of the fish?” you whisper. 

“Pompano,” says Jane, very softly; the master 
waiter is near. 

An Unprintable Interview With Miss Cowl 305 

“Ah, yes, pompano,” I say with full, enriched 
voice. “He’s always been one of my favorite fishes; 
even superior to the sand-dab, don’t you think, Miss 

“He could lick the sand-dab any day in a stand-up 
fight,” says Jane, splendidly — “he’s twice as big.” 

And yet this girl who can co-write plays as 
humanly as she acts them will sit on a gold chair and 
tell you that the lighter, the colloquial, the catch-as- 
catch-can interview (I try to think of it as the human 
interview) is not for her! 

Listen, girls — it’s coming out how Jane’s his- 
trionic talent was first exhibited to the world; it’s 
coming out with the — wait till I ask. 

“Jane,” I say, “what is this delectable bird?” 
“Guinea fowl — I couldn’t get any prairie chicken.” 
“And the ebony trimming?” 

“A mere truffle,” says Jane. 

So there you know what it’s coming out with. 
“I’m Boston born,” Jane confesses, “and mother 
used to drag me home from New York on the Fall 
River boat — to show the relatives what a big, nice 
girl I was for three. And one day on the boat she 
lost me; she lost me for thirty minutes. And just 
when they were going to stop the boat and drag the 
river, mother found me — in the salon. I was holding 
a derby hat half full of money and was surrounded by 
a hundred laughing men. 

“ ‘How did you get that money?’ mother demanded. 
“I showed her. I coughed and dramatically spat 
in, or at, one of the large bright brass cuspidors that 
ornamented the salon. I had, it seems, been strangely 
interested in the expectorant feats of an elderly 
tobacco-chewing gentleman. I had followed and 


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mimicked him from one polished brass American 
institution to another. And when he had desisted and 
my large audience wanted me to go on with my imita- 
tion, I had answered with precocious thrift for an 
actress of three: 

“ ‘I’ll ’pit for a penny.’ 

“Hence the hat and the money. But you can 
imagine,” laughs Jane, “the job mother had trying 
to restore the gross receipts of my first public 

Jane has acted it as she warms to her story — 
finding a new employment and disesteem for the gold 

“It’s so funny my side hurts,” I say, when I stop 

“It is funny,” Jane admits — “but of course you 
can’t write anything like that. So there,” she sighs 
hopelessly, “we are! 

“That’s as unpublishable,” she goes on, “as my 
visit in Paris to the house of the famous actor De 
Max. I’d seen his wonderful performance; I’d seen 
him driving in the Bois with wonderful blue ribbons 
for lines; and nothing would do but that I, an ambi- 
tious votary in the theater, must be taken to him. 

“So a man took me to the home of De Max, where 
a formal servant admitted us to the drawing room. 
And my God, Ashton, when De Max came to greet us 
he was naked! I give you my word of honor he had 
on nothing but a small leopard skin round his hips — 
not even leopard-skin pants! — just a small and loose 
leopard skin! You can imagine my feelings.” 

“He was an informal guy,” I say, sympathetically. 

“Informal is right,” says Jane. “Right then this 
French gentleman had his dinner brought in on a tray, 
and he ate it in front of us without asking us to 

An Unprintable Interview With Miss Cowl 307 

have as much as a cup of coffee. It may have been 
all right, but it’s not my idea of Spanish hospitality.” 

A touch of serious theater is, I fear, working in. 
Jane is telling me how she suffers on first nights, how 
she wishes she could “open” just “for people” and not 
have to face New York’s hideous “death watch.” 

“They had me licked in the first act on the first 
night of ‘Smilin’ Through’,” she tells me passionately 
and colloquially. “Those body-snatchers wouldn’t have 
me at any price. My performance became a battle, a 
fight, a scrap. Well, I got ’em in the second act and 
in the last act I had 'em standing on their hind legs 
— but it took twenty years out of me.” 

“You don’t look it,” says I, bright as a gilt chair 
or a brass institution. 

It’s so feeble she is compelled to laugh, and is 
somehow reminded of a couple of treble youths whom 
she describes as “sweet cookies.” These nancified lads 
were at the historic premiere of “Smilin’ Through,” 
and this is a bit of their conversation as it was 
reported to Jane (0 girls, I wish you could hear her 
mimic them !) : 

Sweet Cookie ( contralto ) — Well, she holds them, 
doesn’t she? 

Sweeter Cookie ( altissimo ) — Holds them? My 
dear, she clutches them! 

For dessert we have sublimated mousse baited 
with marons glaces — and cherry tart. (I insist on the 
cherry tart, although you might say that we don’t 
really have it; you might say that we have only the 
spirit of it. Symbolists may read what they like into 
this chapter of the Cherry Tart.) 

“I threw it at Dolph,” says Jane, in a confession 



of temperament; meaning by “Dolph” Mr. Adolph 
Klauber, manager, husband (Jane’s), and one time 
distinguished dramatic critic of the New York Times. 
Then she retraces: 

“We were poor, Dolph and I, when we were mar- 
ried. And I was taking a hard-earned present of 
cakes and pastries to Mr. Belasco, who dearly loves 
’em and whom I dearly love. And when Dolph sat 
flat on the whole purchase, scrambling it beyond 
salvage, I lifted up the first item to hand and threw 
it at him. It was a torn and bleeding cherry tart and 
he got it, literally, in the neck. 

“But you should have heard Dolphy tell it,” she 
goes on, generously. “I heard him one night, at the 
American Dramatists’, when they honored me with 
a dinner. I never was so puffed out in my life; I’d 
never heard such adulation — even the telegrams from 
the absent. One of these telegrams said, ‘I never 
think of Miss Cowl without thinking of the phrase, 
“How far that little candle throws its beams !” ' 

“Dolph’s speech followed that. He said he didn’t 
know how far I could throw a beam, but he did know 
how far and accurately I could throw a cherry pie, 
and he told the story, unsparingly. 

“Jane,” says I, brightly, “is Dolph the only critic 
you ever pasted with a pie?” 

“I regret to inform you that he is,” says my 
perfect hostess, signaling the entire dinner party to 

Ambushing the First Actress 

r ,h t|ERE on mother’s desk is Cousin Min- 

W nie’s veil, and I think I’ll keep it. Some 
ladies leave their cards when they come 
to call on mother, but she always leaves 
a veil. It is a very large one, and of 
^ N that faded cobalt which the fashionable 
now call “old blue.” It is slightly tattered — which 
makes it the more authentic. Yes, I think I shall keep 
it. And when some young actress calls and has been 
very, very good, I will permit her to kiss this old blue 
veil of Mrs. Fiske’s. 

The interview was had by stealth and force. The 
tea was two cups old when I emerged from ambush, 
saying, “What you have just said to mother is just 
what I want you to say for me !” 

“Who is this strange man?” she cried, not with 
utter happiness. “And what was it I was just saying 
that could have been of the slightest interest to you?” 
“You were saying, dear lady, that all this talk 
about Youth is piffle.” 

“Impossible! I may have said that it was over- 

“All right, overrated. But you said piffle, and I 
loved you for it. You know what the president of 
Harvard said about the president of Yale?” 

“No. I was not in his confidence.” 

“He said the president of Yale never went to bed 
— he always retired.” 

“The president of Yale was perfectly right,” she 
gorgeously affirmed with the witchery that I have 



adored for twenty years — with the witchery which she 
will not turn on to order. “And if I must be inter- 
viewed — and I don’t see why — let it be some other day 
when we can ” 

I interrupted the First Actress with a hoarse and 
ignoble “No!” She is, I told her, when it comes to 
speaking of or for herself, the foremost of procrasti- 
tutes. Hadn’t we, I wanted to know, only a season or 
two ago, spent futile hours plotting an interview that 
was to make Plato’s transcripts of Socrates look like 
thirty cents?” 

“I don’t understand you, Mr. Stevens,” she iron- 
ically smiled. 

“And didn’t you finally say, ‘You should not 
attempt an interview with a woman who knows as 
little of the theater as I’? Whereupon I wrote one 
with a distinguished lady of the chorus.” 

“Did you? Well, that sounds plausible — But not 
now, please, for this one. Say . . . day after tomor- 
row at ?” 

“You were saying,” I implacably repeated, pen- 
ciling it on a pad, “that all this talk about Youth is 

“Overrated,” she sighed. “Youth, I said, is the 
time of blunders, stupidities and egotisms. It takes 
all the rest of one’s life to correct the mistakes of 
youth. And it’s such a silly, selfish time, youth — isn’t 
it true? Agree with me and we can continue this 
conversation indefinitely.” 

“It is,” I answered, flatteringly reconciled to the 
ripe and middle years. 

“How youth exaggerates its self-importance, its 
ambitions! And what wise things I’m saying! Per- 
fectly stupid ! They’ve been said a thousand times and 

Ambushing the First Actress 311 

a thousand times better. Tell me something : Mother 
says you’re having a book published — what about it?” 
“Yes,” I confessed, “we’re calling it ‘Actorviews/ ” 
“Um ! Comprehensive ; very comprehensive.” She 
sipped her tea and characteristically tapped the rug 
with the tip of her toy-sized boot. “And how many of 
the old interviews you wrote in San Francisco and 
New York shall be in the book?” 


“Why not?” 

“They don’t seem to be so well, Cousin Minnie, 

the truth is they seem to be written worse than the 
later ones.” 

“There’s my point!” she melodiously laughed. You 
write better now because you’re not so selfishly, 
stupidly, ambitiously, blunderingly, egotistically young. 
One writes better with years — no doubt of it.” 

“And ?” 

“And I suppose you want me to say acts better, 
too, just as the painter paints better? And I’ll say it, 
very stupidly, but with profound conviction : One acts 
better when one’s not too miserably young.” 

It is rapturous fun, growing old and wise with 
Mrs. Fiske, to whom years bring only flavor. But I 
wish I could translate to this page something of the 
buoyancy of her body, not to mention the less trans- 
latable magnetism of her mind. . . . She is as honest 
as the sun, and as inscrutable as the stars. She, who 
has made the drama clearer and saner by her inter- 
pretation of it, is in herself ( and I sometimes think, 
to herself) just a little bit mysterious. She is a mys- 
tical humanist; more, she is a mystical humorist. 

She knows more about the art, science and craft 
of play-acting than all the rest of us put together in a 



night school, but she does not talk readily of its ways 
and means. She has no glib maxims on acting, no 
frothy formulas. I once heard her say, when we were 
at a play together where a player had been applauded 
on his exit, “It’s an actor’s own fault when the audience 
applauds him!” But I don’t think I ever have heard 
her say that acting is so or such. 

“Do characters come to you in flashes, or bit by 
bit?” I asked. And she just looked at me out of her 
large violet-blue eyes, a little pleadingly, perhaps, to 
say this was a dull and heavy price to pay for a cup 
of tea. 

But I persisted. “How was it with Becky Sharp?” 
“ Becky jumped at me out of the pages of the book. 
But many characters,” she went on slowly (for her), 
“have to be made . . . when the author hasn’t been 
vivid ... as Ibsen is vivid ... I was rereading him 
last Summer . . . ‘Rosmersholm,’ ‘Hedda Gabler* and 
‘The Pillars of Society’ ... oh, it was bracing !” 

“You were rather ‘off’ Mr. Ibsen last time we 
talked,” I rather pusillanimously reminded. 

“Possibly. It was no doubt the insolence of 

“He has become important to you again?” 

“Much more important than ever. I see things in 
‘Rosmersholm’ that makes me feel I must have been 

blind. And in ‘The Pillars’ ! That little bit of a 

tiny part of Lona Hessel ! She’s very short, but 

the most beautiful role in all literature; she seems to 
me to be the last word in purest womanhood. . . . 
Yes, Ibsen was much more interesting to me last Sum- 
mer. But that, you see, was because I was older! 
. . . Youth!” she derided “Fiddlesticks!” 

“Tell me,” I said, very seriously, “of your first 
remembered thrill in the theater.” 

Ambushing the First Actress 


Her long lashes danced and she said: 

“It was when a beautiful blond leading lady took 
me to her bust, I mean breast, and called me her darling 
child. . . . Beautiful blond leading ladies always were 
doing that to me when I was a little girl. At that time 
I was invariably employed to reconcile parted parents 
by saying, ‘Mama, kiss papa.’ ” 

“You had no sense then of the stage’s relationship 
to life?” I tried helpfully to put in. 

“Nor of life’s relationship to the stage,” she turned 
it. “It was the life outside that seemed the artificial 
thing. I used to look out and down on life and think 
the performance enormously counterfeit. My world 
was peopled by stage hands, carpenters, grips, prop- 
erty men . . . and they were very real and very kind 
people. And, of course, the most wonderful hour was 
when my mother gave me soda water and cakes after 
the play. . . . But . . 


“I was just thinking . . .” 


“How I lied about that exquisite, flowerlike mother 
of mine.” 

“She was very lovely, very delicate . . . she was 
mostly soul,” Mrs. Fiske went on, peacefully, her boot 
silent, her lids unwinking, “and I ruled her with a rod 

of iron It gave me great pleasure to tell strange 

ladies in the hotels, who took an interest in a precocious 
little scoundrel, that my mother beat and starved me. 
But I sometimes spoiled the drama of this by going too 
far and saying that she also made me work, made me 
make my own clothes, which were rather pretty and 
the sewing of which would have been considerable of 
a feat for a child of five or six. . . . But when I 



remember how I lied when I was a very young actress, 
it makes me think that maybe Jane Addams and the 
ladies of the cruelty society were right last season when 
they prevented my coming to Chicago with the unsub- 
stitutible children in ‘Wake Up, Jonathan!’ ” 

The tiny boot tapped and the long lashes batted a 
spark or two at this memory of stupid indiscrimination. 
But we didn’t talk about that. 

“What most delights you now in the way of act- 
ing?” said I. 

“Oh, the unobtrusive thing,” said she. “I find 
myself elaborating (but not too much, I hope), some 
unobtrusive thing that finds the heart . . . via the 
head. The deliberately exciting end of an act, the 
crash of the curtain, finds me a little cold. It’s too 
calculated, I feel. . . 

“I’ve never seen you play a ‘love scene.’ ” 

“And, what’s more, my dear friend, you never 
will. I can’t and I won’t play a ‘love scene.’ And I 
don’t know why I can’t.” 

“It’s your celestial sense of humor, of course, 
which would regard it as a sort of exhibitionism.” 

“All right,” she smiled, “but please remember that 
wonderful word is your own!” 

“When are you going to play Shakespeare?” 
“Juliet?” she twinkled. “Can you imagine what I 
would do to Romeo?” 

“Dear lady, as a solemn ‘subject’ you’re a brilliant 
failure today.” 

“It’s the tea. You must have put something in it. 
One more very solemn observation and I must go, 
really. Speaking of lcve scenes, a very wise and 
wealthy woman friend once said to me, ‘My dear, I’d 

Ambushing the First Actress 


give all I possess in the world to be in the audience and 
see your Camille hand the rose to Armond!’ 

“I mean, of course,” she added at the door, "not 
‘hand’ but ‘offer’ the rose to Armond, which is much 
more elegant. Let me, like the president of Yale, 
retire !” 




Abies, Edward, 93 
Adams, Franklin P., 254 
Adams, Maude, 94, 140 
Addams, Jane, 314 
Ade, George, 6 
Akst, Harry, 260 
Alexander, George, 

99, 175 

Algood, Sarah, 38 


Ames, Winthrop, 

62, 139, 170, 238 
Annunzio, Gabriele D\ 

Aphrodite, 246 
Aphrodite, 44 
Archer, William, 

176, 178, 179 
Arliss, George, 173 
Armstrong, Paul, 147 
Astor, Mrs., 67 
As You Like It, 150 

Bacon, Frank, 295 
Bacon, Mrs. Frank, 298 
Ballad Girl, The, 223 
Barrie, Sir James M., 93 
Barrymore, Ethel, 

94, 97, 135 
Barrymore, John, 

51, 93, 99 
Barrymore, Lionel, 

31, 67, 127, 128 
Barrymore, Maurice, 

63, 98 

Bates, Blanche, 111 
Bayes, Nora, 255 
Beerbohm, Max, 175 
Belasco, David, 

111, 139, 161, 247, 308 
Bennett, Richard, 137 
Berlin, Irving, 83 

Bernard, Sam, 34, 259 
Beyond the Horizon, 

Bloom, Ike, 101 
Blue Bird, The, 238 
Bluebeard’s Eighth 
Wife, 56 
Bombo, 186, 191 
Booth, Edwin, 159 
Bordoni, Irene, 290 
Bought and Paid For, 

Bowery After Dark, 
The, 31 

Brady, “Diamond Jim,” 

Brennan, Jay, 113 
Brice, Fanny, 221 
Brieux, Eugene, 139 
Briggs, Clare, 119 
Broadhurst, George, 139 
Broadway Brevities, 


Broken Wing, The, 128 
Bunker Bean, 154 
Butler, Bunny, 277 
Byron, Arthur, 56 

Caldwell, Caldwell B., 


Calve, Emma, 253 
Camille, 315 
Camille, 5 

Campbell, Mrs. Patrick, 
10, 99, 175 

Cantor, Eddie, 138, 188 
Carter, Mrs. Leslie, 

6, 107 

Chanticler, 140 
Chaplin, Charles, 90, 286 
Chesterton, G. K., 

125, 236 

Cio-Cio-San, 170 



Circle, The, 5, 108 
Claire, Ina, 55 
Clarke, Harry, 257 
Claw, The, 129 
Cobb, Irvin, 120 
Coghlan, Rose, 11 
Cohan, George M., 

147, 183, 205, 222, 289 
Cohan Revue, The, 255 
Common Law, The, 132 
Conrad, Joseph, 137 
Coogan, Jackie, 120 
Collier, “Buster,” 95 
Collier, William, 

87, 99, 289 

Collinge, Patricia, 286 
Collins, Charles, 56, 286 
Colosimo, “Jim,” 

165, 167 

Concert, The, 18 
Courtenay, William, 

156, 157 

Cowl, Jane, 268, 303 
Craven, Frank, 9, 75 
Cure for Curables, A, 

Curtis, Brownie, 277 
Cushman, Charlotte, 5 

Daly, Arnold, 9, 147 
Daly, Augustin, 91 
Daly, Blythe, 9, 279 
Damaged Goods, 138 
Decker, Georgiana, 43 
Declasse, 98 
De Courville, Albert, 69 
De Leon, Milly, 265 
Delmar, Ethel, 186 
Diana of Dobson’s, 140 
Dictator, The, 99 
Dillingham, Charles, 

69, 83, 114, 116 
Ditrichstein, Leo, 15 

Ditrichstein, Mrs. Leo, 


Dooley, Ray, 221 
Doro, Marie, 93, 154 
Drew, John, 

1, 108, 111, 238 
Drew, Louise, 11 
Du Barry, 107 
Dudley, Bide, 265 
Dulcy, 285 

Du Maurier, George, 64 
Duncan Sisters, The, 69 
Duse, Eleanora, 160 

Edison, Thomas, 117 
Elliott, Maxine, 271 
Elliott, William, 210 
Eltinge, Julian, 115 
Emperor of Germany, 
The, 50 

Erlanger, A. L., 34, 213 
Errol, Leon, 188 

Fair Circassian, 

The, 128 

Fairbanks, Douglas, 117 
Falstaff, 175 
Farwell, Arthur Burrage 

Ferguson, Elsie, 23 
First Year, The, 

75, 76, 77 
Fisher, Irving, 255 
Fiske, Mrs., 

135, 251, 271, 309 
Fontanne, Lynn, 

193, 285 

Forever, 27 
Fortune Hunter, 

The, 297 
Fox, Della, 234 
Foy, Eddie, 94, 259 
Frawley, T. Daniel, 272 



French Doll, The, 289 
Friendly Enemies, 34 
Frohman, Charles, 

93, 138, 140 

Garden. Mary, 

13, 14, 105, 115, 245 
Garrity, John J., 113 
Gerard, Ambassador, 


Gershwin, George, 293 
Gest, Morris, 

47, 114, 243 
Gillette, William, 93 
Gimp, “Colonel,” 188 
Gish, Dorothy, 155 
Golden, John, 76, 298 
Gold Diggers, The, 59 
Goodwin, N. C., 

94, 147, 268, 272 
Goodrich, Edna, 272 
Grasshopper, 33 
Green Goddess, 

The, 173 

Grimwood, Herbert, 243 
Grismer, Joseph, 139 
Gipsy Love, 34 

Hairy Ape, The, 29, 125 
Hall, 0. L., 273 
Hamilton, Hale, 296 
Hamlet, 150 
Hamlet, 159 

Hammerstein, Oscar, 246 
Hammond, Percy, 

141, 154, 221, 246 
Hanaford, Maud, 195 
Happy-Go-Lucky, 9, 12 
Harcourt, Cyril, 194 
Harris, Sam H., 297 
Hayes, Helen, 249 
Hermes, Madame, 47 
Herod, 52 

Hilliard, Robert, 183 
Hitchcock, Raymond, 201 
Hitch y-Koo, 201 
Hodge, William, 156, 157 
Hoffman, Aaron, 34, 35 
Holmes, Frank, 187 
Hopkins, Arthur, 

34, 127, 274 
Hopwood, Avery, 116 
Houseman, Lou M., 

61, 230 

Huban, Eileen, 33 
Hull, Shelley, 296 
Humoresque, 121, 122 
Hurst, Fannie, 121, 122 

Iago, 174, 175 
Ibbetson, Peter, 

62, 63, 66 

Ibbetson, Colonel, 67 
Ibsen, Henrik, 176, 312 
Irene, 165 
Irene, 166 

James, Henry, 26 
Janis, Elsie, 81 
Janis, Mrs., 81 
Jest, The, 128 
Johnson, Samuel, 125 
Johnstone, Justine, 233 
Jolson, Al. 138, 186, 245 
Judge of Zalamea, 

The, 19 
Julie, 24, 28 
Juliet, 314 
Justice, 64 
Just Suppose, 285 

Kantor, Mrs., 121 
Kern, Jerome, 134 
King, The, 16, 18 
King of Spain, The, 

70, 73 



Kipling, Rudyard, 216 
Kitty, Lady, 110 
Klauber, Adolph, 308 
Klaw and Erlanger, 29 
Kolb and Dill, 131 

Lackaye, Wilton, 62, 252 
Ladies’ Night, 153 
Lardner, Ring, 222 
La Rue, Grace, 203 
Laurell, Kay, 240 
Lawford, Ernest, 5 
Leacock, Stephen, 236 
Leave It to Jane, 131 
Le Gallienne, Eva, 84 
Lemaire, George, 138 
Leslie, Amy, 146, 155 
Letter of the Law, 
The, 128 

Lewis, Sinclair, 287 
Lightnin’, 295 
Lilies of the Field, 153 
Littlest Rebel, The, 33 
Lord, Pauline, 271 

Mackay, Elsie, 33 
Mackaye, Percy, 94 
Madame Sherry, 168 
Man from Mexico, 

The, 92 

Manchester, Duke of, 73 
Mann, Louis, 

34, 35, 94, 135 
Manners, J. Hartley, 

119, 123, 193 
Mantell, Robert, 111 
Marbe, Fay, 209 
Marlowe, Julia, 111, 215 
Maternity, 139 
Maugham, W. S., 6 
Mayo, Frank, 149 
Mayo, Robert, 137 

McGovern, Terry, 31 
McIntyre and Heath, 138 
Mecca, 243 
Meredith, George, 236 
Merilles, Meg, 5 
Michelson, Miriam, 107 
Milestones, 196 
Miller, Henry, 111 
Mimi, 170 
Mitchell, Grant, 

181, 183, 184 
Mizner, Wilson, 147 
Mogli, 191 
Montgomery, James, 

165, 297 

Moore, Florence, 33 
Moore, Owen, 84 
Moores, Clara, 153 
Morosco, Oliver, 138 
Music Master, The, 

159, 161 

My Lady’s Dress, 196 

Nash, Florence, 258 
Nash, George, 93 
Nathan, George Jean, 13 
Neilson, Carlotta, 140 
Norworth, Jack, 256 
Nothing But the 
Truth, 87 

Oaker, Jane, 298 
O’Brien, Eugene, 268 
Oh, Boy!, 210 
Olcott, Chauncey, 184 
O’Neill, Eugene, 129, 273 
O’Neill, Maire, 37 
O’Ramey, Georgie, 131 
Orphans of the 
Storm, 211 
Othello, 159, 160, 161 
Overman, Lynne, 263 



Page, William A., 250 
Pair of Petticoats, A, 

Parlor, Bedroom and 
Bath, 33 
Passers-By, 137 
Patterson, Joseph 
Medill, 137 
Payne, Mary, 109 
Payne, William Louis, 

Peg ’o My Heart, 119 
Pershing, Gen. John J., 

Petroucha, 64 
Peyton, Corse, 92 
Pickford, Mary, 120 
Pierre of the Plains, 

Playboy of the 
Western World, 

The, 39, 40 
Pot Luck, 155 
Prince There Was, A, 

Pudd’nhead Wilson, 


Rambeau, Marjorie, 33 
Reed, Jessie, 279 
Rennie, James, 155 
Richard II, 50 
Ridings, Harry J., 181 
Rock and White, 203 
Rogers, Will, 188 
Romeo, 111 
Roth, Nat, 233 
Royal Slave, The, 224 
Ruffo, Tito, 186 
Russell, Lillian, 203, 233 

Sand, George, 271 
Santuzza, 170 

Sargent, J. S., 99 
Savoy, Bert, 113 
Savoy and Brennan, 113 
Secret Service, 176 
Selwyn, Archie, 107 
Selwyn, Edgar, 139 
Shaftel, Walter, 102 

51, 150, 174, 175 
Sharp, Becky, 312 
Shavings, 154 
Shipman, Samuel, 34, 35 
Shubert, J. J., 138, 259 
Shubert, Lee, 138 
Shuberts, The, 29 

159, 161, 174, 219 
Sinclair, Arthur, 38 
Singer, Mortimer, 65 
Skinner, Otis, 111, 252 
Smilin’ Through, 307 
Smith, 6 
Sothern, E. H., 

62, 111, 215 
Spite Corner, 76 
Stone, Fred, 188, 258 
Stubborn Cinderella, 
A, 65 

Sumurun, 64 
Sunday, Billy, 204 
Synge, J. M., 39 

Talker, The, 275 
Tanguay, Eva, 105 
Taylor, Josephine, 101 
Taylor, Laurette, 

119, 193, 196, 258 
Tavern, The, 12 
Tearle, Conway, 33 
Thackeray, W. M., 64 
Thais, 14 

Tinney, Frank, 188 
Tip-Top, 70 



Too Many Cooks, 77 
Tree, Sir Herbert, 

49, 135, 175 
Tree, Lady, 198 
Trevor, Norman, 194 
Tucker, Sophie, 141 
Twelfth Night, 52 
Twain, Mark, 83 

Valentino, Rudolph, 250 

Mrs. Cornelius, 70, 72 
Vanderdecken, 161, 162 
Van Loan, Charles, 88 
Varying Shore, The, 
24, 26 

Velvet Lady, The, 213 
Vernon, Marie, 184 
Von Barwig, 159, 161 

Wales, Prince of, 70, 72 
Walker, Mildred, 43 
Warfield, David, 

94, 111, 159, 174, 258 
’Way Down East, 139 
Wertheimer, Jacob, 206 
West, Valorie, 132 
What Every Woman 
Knows, 140 
Wheaton, Anna, 210 

White, George, 186 
White-Headed Boy, 
The, 41 

Whiteman, Paul, 186 
Whittaker, James, 55 
Why Marry?, 148 
Wilder, Marshall P., 269 
Williams, Bert, 138, 222 
Wilson, Woodrow, 260 
Winslow, Jed, 155 
Winter, Dale, 165 
Wood, Swan, 101 
Woods, A. H., 29, 94, 
132, 133, 139, 230 
Wolhiem, Louis, 125 
Woollcott, Alexander, 


Wyndham, Olive, 33 
Wynn, Ed, 188, 235 

Yank the Stoker, 125 
Yeats, W. B., 37 
You Never Can Tell, 

Zaza, 107 

Ziegfeld, Florenz, 69, 221 
Ziegfeld Follies, 

191, 277 

Scanned from the collection of 
Robert Farr 

Coordinated by the 
Media History Digital Library 

Funded by a donation from 

University of South Carolina Libraries 
and College of Arts and Sciences